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Plea Bargains in California Criminal Defense Law

Posted by Neil Shouse | Apr 27, 2010 | 0 Comments

Plea bargaining is a useful tool that is beneficial to both the prosecution and the defense. The parties typically enter into these negotiations when neither side is confident that the case will ultimately resolve in their favor.

When the defendant and prosecutor strike a deal, the prosecutor obtains a criminal conviction against the defendant and the defendant pleads guilty or “no contest” to a lesser charge and (in most cases) to a lesser sentence than he would have faced under his original charge(s).

Two of the most common plea bargain charges are Penal Code 602 PC, California's trespassing law, and Penal Code 415 PC, disturbing the peace. Although neither crime typically relates to the underlying offense, both of these charges can be filed as either misdemeanors or infractions, which is why they are popular plea bargaining tools. Additionally, a Penal Code 602 PC, California trespassing charge invites little if any real scrutiny on a criminal record.

The fact is that the vast majority of criminal cases do not go to trial. Many defendants plead “straight up” to the charge(s) against them, while the remaining cases usually resolve when the involved parties negotiate a plea bargain. Also refer to our article, "Can a plea bargain help me in a California DUI case?"

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.

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