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The pros and cons of plea negotiation

Kentucky residents who have been accused of commiting a crime may have the opportunity to submit a plea negotiation. But is this a good option for all situations, or can it sometimes do more harm than good?

According to the Legal Dictionary, a plea negotiation occurs when both parties in a case negotiate over whether the defendant will plead no contest or guilty to certain charges. In return, the defendant usually has their most severe charges dropped. If they were facing multiple charges, it might also be pared down so they're only facing one.

This can be both beneficial and potentially damaging. FindLaw takes a look at both sides of the coin, examining which parts of a plea bargain can act beneficially, and which are a detriment. In terms of benefits, a plea negotiation can actually benefit many different parties and not just the defendant. It saves time for the judge, and secures a win for the prosecutor. The obvious benefit for the defendant is that they get a reduced charge, which will likely lead to a less severe sentence.

On the other hand, the most obvious con for a defendant is that accepting a plea bargain is an admission of guilt. Even if someone is innocent, claiming guilt can leave a permanent mark on their record, making future employment, housing, or educational opportunities harder to obtain. It also highlights financial issues within the system, since lower income defendants often choose to accept plea bargains rather than face an expensive trial.

In the end, whether plea negotiation will work for any individual is up to their specific case and what they value the most. The pros and cons should be weighed carefully before a decision is made.

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