Why do we have Plea Bargains?
The Defense, the Prosecution and judges all have different reasons for participating in the plea bargaining process. Each of these reasons are self-serving, but when the three sides' self interests align, the system works pretty well. But, it only takes one side to object to a plea bargain and the process comes to a screeching halt.
Why the Defense Uses Plea Bargains
Defense attorneys works hard protecting the legal rights of persons charged with crimes in Jefferson and Arapahoe County, whether it be misdemeanor crimes like Unlawful Sexual Contact and Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, or felony offenses like Sexual Assault and Theft. In cases where there is solid proof the defendant committed the offense without an affirmative defense, it is much better to enter a plea agreement compared to going to trial and losing. Under these circumstances, District Attorneys and judges will impose a smaller jail or prison sentence, fines and probation term. If the government does not have good evidence which a jury will believe, it is always better to go to trial and win the case.
Why Prosecutors Make Plea Agreement Offers
The Prosecution represents the People of the State of Colorado, and alleged victims. Unfortunately, lately we've seen prosecutors adopt a blind loyalty to what their “victims” allege, even if it borders on insanity. Their undying loyalty seems foolish at times, with an unwillingness to ask tough questions and expose their victim's lies. Only when they stand in front of a jury do they start to see the falsehood of their victim's story. Prosecutors offer plea bargains in most, but not all cases. In a death case, for example, they will not make a strong plea offer unless their evidence is very weak. Generally, District Attorneys in Denver and across Colorado will back off the charges and offer a plea to a lesser offense to resolve the case. The remaining charges are dismissed as part of the plea deal. They do this because of the high number of cases. They cannot possibly take all of them to trial. There are not enough DAs or courtrooms.
Plea bargaining keeps the court system from becoming gridlocked.
Why Judges Must Agree to Plea Bargains
Judges have the final say on plea bargains and agreements in Adams and Washington County. They can reject a plea if they find it too beneficial to the defendant or too harsh on a defendant. In most cases, they will accept the plea and any sentence concessions because they don't have enough time to take all the cases on their docket to trial. We've seen judges pull aside young District Attorneys who make unreasonable offers in cases and set too many for trial. It is impractical to expect every case to go to trial – such a move would gridlock the system.