Plea Bargain Law & Legal Definition


A plea bargain is a negotiated agreement between a criminal defendant and a prosecutor in which the defendant agrees to plead "guilty" or "no contest" to some crimes, along with possible conditions, such as attending anger management classes, in return for reduction of the severity of the charges, dismissal of some of the charges, or some other benefit to the defendant. A defendant must uphold his or her end of the deal, such as pleading guilty on a particular date, cooperating in the investigation of another offense, or testifying against a co-defendant.or the plea bargain may be revoked.

Plea bargaining helps save the time and expense of trials by allowing the prosecutor to obtain guilty pleas in cases that might otherwise go to trial. The judge must approve the plea bargain before accepting the plea. Critics of plea bargaining argue that it may be used to coerce confessions to crimes the defendant didn't commit, and that it results in dangerous offenders being set free too early.