At some point in nearly every Oregon criminal case, the government and the defendant will explore the possibility of a plea bargain. The truth is that very few cases will ultimately proceed all the way to a trial. Thus, defendants need to familiarize themselves with how plea bargains work.

There are three different types of plea bargains. First, the defendant could plead guilty to a lesser crime in exchange for the government dropping some of the more serious charges. Second, the defendant would enter a guilty plea and would be given a lighter sentence than the maximum. Finally, the defendant could agree to plead guilty to certain facts while the government would agree to keep other facts out of the trial.

Defendants must understand the ramifications of a guilty plea before accepting the deal. It could mean jail time and a fine since the defendant will now be guilty of a crime. In addition, the judge may not approve the plea deal or could still give a sentence higher than what the prosecutor recommends. In other words, it is the judge who has the final say. There could be lifelong effects of having a criminal record. However, many defendants find that it is best to take some risk off the table that they could be given the harshest possible sentence, and they choose to spare themselves a trial.

Those who find charged with a crime need the help of an attorney familiar with the criminal justice system and criminal defense to help navigate the courts. Being charged with a crime is stressful given the possible consequences. Moreover, one needs to make sure that their legal rights are not violated during the criminal proceeding. The attorney may help their client by entering into plea bargain negotiations with the prosecutor in the hopes of getting their client the best possible deal.