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What are plea bargains used for in Georgia?

Many instances of accusations related to criminal charges in Georgia result in plea bargains inside the criminal justice system. As part of a plea bargain, the accused individual agrees to plead guilty to some or all of the charges he or she is facing in exchange for concessions from the prosecutor, such as a reduced sentence or other considerations. Plea bargains are primarily viewed as an expedient method of handling cases for the criminal justice system and are somewhat common.

To reduce the punishment the accused individual will receive, a plea bargain may include fewer charges or lesser charges than the ones the accused individual was originally charged with. In addition, the prosecutor may recommend a reduced sentence to the judge for the accused individual in exchange for a plea bargain. The role of judges in the plea bargaining process varies by jurisdiction and circumstances.

The plea bargaining process may sometimes cause concerns because it requires the accused individual to waive certain important rights, including the right to a jury trial, the right to confront witnesses against him or her and the right against self incrimination. As a result, it is important to understand the plea bargaining process and how it applies to your case, situation and circumstances. Plea bargains must also be entered into voluntarily and the accused individual must understand the consequences of the plea bargain.

Plea bargains, based on plea negotiations with the prosecution, are considered contracts and if broken, an accused individual may be permitted to withdraw a guilty plea, the prosecutor may have to offer some other plea arrangement or judge may assign some other remedy. Plea bargains can be beneficial to accused individuals in some circumstances in Georgia, but because of their implications, there are important protections associated with plea bargains to be aware of and fully understand.

Source: Cornell University School of Law Legal Information Institute, "Plea Bargain," Accessed Oct. 10, 2016

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