Plea Bargaining Pros and Cons List

When it comes to court proceedings where the accused or defendant is at risk of being incarcerated, an option that is often taken into consideration is to go into a plea bargain. According to records, a large percentage of convictions are a result of plea bargaining. This may be the best decision some criminals facing jail time can make while for most cases, this is simply the only option there is. What exactly is plea bargaining?

This refers to an agreement between two parties in a litigation process, the defendant and the plaintiff, wherein the accused usually pleads guilty to a criminal charge in exchange for a lesser time in jail or punishment. Although this seems to be the norm in some cases, there are still contentions if it is really is beneficial or more of a disadvantage to the people involved. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of entering into a plea bargain agreement.

List of Pros of Plea Bargaining

1. It can assure a convicted criminal less time in jail.
For accused individuals who are likely to get a guilty verdict for a crime they are accused of, working out a deal can be a sound decision. By agreeing to plead guilty to a crime of lesser stature than what was he or she originally was accused of, a defendant can have his or her charges and punishment reduced. There are instances when defending lawyers recommend this, especially that there is no assurance members of the jury will give a favorable decision to the accused.

2. It can save public funds.
Since the state which has jurisdiction over the case is the one spending for the trial, plea bargaining can lessen the expenses to be incurred as the trial goes. If both parties agree, a trial might not even take place. Also, there will be lesser trials to handle and this gives prosecutors more room to handle other more important cases.

List of Cons of Plea Bargaining

1. It can lead to an innocent admitting to a crime.
One of the setbacks of a plea bargain is the unfortunate incident that a person who is not guilty to a crime but lack the evidence to prove this otherwise will be forced to admit to the accusation just so lesser penalty will be imposed.

2. It can lead to poor investigations and unpreparedness of prosecutors.
Another disadvantage of plea bargaining, according to critics, is that if this becomes a practice, there will be negligence in conducting investigations and evidence gathering since some prosecutors might see it useless to give so much effort on the case. This can also encourage criminals to continue with their illegal activities in the hopes that they can always work on a deal.

3. It can be unfair to either of the parties.
If an innocent person is coerced to enter a guilty plea, some attorneys and prosecutors say this takes away the right of the individual to prove his or her innocence since he is not given the chance to go on trial by jury. On the contrary, if a guilty criminal gets a plea bargain, justice might not be served since he or she will not be punished on the merits of his crime.


Plea bargaining can be beneficial to the people involved and the society as well. However, it is also wise to weigh its pros and cons before agreeing to one.