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Alternate ways to resolve criminal cases

Plea bargains are an essential part of the Kentucky criminal justice system. They save time, keep the courts from being bogged down and can help alleviate crowding in jails and prisons. Prosecutors like plea bargains because they weed out minor cases and concentrate instead on the serious cases that need their full attention. They also prefer plea bargains as they represent a sure thing as opposed to a trial that may or may not go their way.

Settling a case outside of the courtroom may be in a prosecutor's best interest as it keeps the court's case load moving in a timely manner. As judges want to keep cases moving and prosecutors want to stay in a judge's good graces, a plea bargain may be a better alternative than going to trial unnecessarily.

From the perspective of a judge, a plea represents an agreement mutually bargained for by both sides. This means that it is more likely than not that each side will adhere to the agreement. Doing so generally reduces the chance of a future dispute that may need to be resolved in front of a judge. If a dispute does need to be resolved in court, it could take months or years for a trial date to be set.

People who have been charged with crimes in Kentucky may want to speak with a criminal defense attorney to see if plea negotiations would be appropriate. In addition to possibly providing the chance for lessened penalties, a plea bargain could benefit a defendant in other ways. For example, if as part of the agreement a felony charge is reduced to a misdemeanor, it could have less of an adverse effect on the defendant's future employment prospects.

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