Plea bargaining is an agreement between the Crown and the defendant in a criminal case. The Crown gives the accused an opportunity to plead guilty to a lesser charge for a lighter sentence or; to the same charge with a lighter sentence than the maximum sentence the Crown would have sought in a trial setting. There are numerous reasons why an accused would accept a plea bargain and why the Crown would offer one. One of the main reasons that the Crown would offer is to lessen the congestion in the court system and save their time to focus on important or increasingly serious cases.
The first reason to accept a plea bargain as an accused is simply, they are guilty and want to serve less time than if they were found guilty in a court of law and would be saddled with a strict punishment. The court system is set up to deter the person specifically from a crime but also as a general deterrent to prevent the public from committing the same crime. With certain crimes, such as impaired driving, an accused may be given a stiffer penalty if found guilty than if taking a plea as the courts will want to prevent others from committing the same act and will give a harsh penalty as a warning to the public that the courts take this offence seriously. If an accused is a repeat offender, their sentence will become increasingly strict as their record lengthens. The courts will want to impose a specific deterrent and will give a ...
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In conclusion, while there are numerous benefits to an accused who is guilty of a crime; including saving the expense and time of a trial, the risks to an innocent party are much greater. This includes having a record that will follow them for the rest of their life and having the associated stigma of being labelled a criminal. One must have an effective advocate on their side to acquire an informed decision on whether it is to their benefit to plea bargain or risk the impending trial. Each circumstance is different and should be carefully scrutinized as to whether the benefits and risks are worth it to the accused. The final decision lies with the person whose life hangs in the balance and they must live with it. As their counsel you can provide your educated opinion but only they truly know whether it is worth the risk or not.
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