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Plea bargains: An imperfect solution to difficult problems

Many times, people will see on Denver TV that someone suspected of a crime has agreed to a plea bargain and feel that the suspect got off easily. Many people have argued that plea bargains should be done away with entirely so that those found guilty have to deal with the full consequences of their illegal acts.

That is a pretty common mistaken impression of how our system works. Without plea bargains, we noted in an article, the criminal justice system might well grind to a halt as everyone fought every charge to the bitter end to try and avoid the worst possible penalties.


Plea bargains are not only useful to prosecutors hoping to avoid court gridlock, however. The agreements are often useful to criminal defense attorneys and their clients as well. Take, for instance, a Colorado DUI charge.

In some cases, the defendant might well agree that they should not have been driving, but would argue that they were not as impaired as police or prosecutors believe. How to resolve the differences between the two sides? One way is to take the case to court, of course, with both sides getting the opportunity to present evidence and make arguments.

Another way is for the sides to negotiate a favorable plea agreement. Perhaps prosecutors will agree that in exchange for a guilty plea, they will reduce charges from a DUI to reckless driving. In that way, both sides can feel the outcome is acceptable; it can be better for some to give a little in return for avoiding a DUI conviction on their record.

 An experienced DUI attorney can evaluate your circumstances and talk over your legal options. A plea bargain might make sense; and fighting the charge in court might make even better sense. It depends on the situation, your record, potential penalties and so on. You want to minimize damage to your career, your family life and your academic pursuits; a talk with an attorney can help make clear how you can best do those things.

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