Prosecuting attorneys are justice-driven. However, they
understand that, no matter how strong the evidence may
be, no case is guaranteed to end in a guilty verdict at trial.
Plea negotiation is the process through which the prosecuting
attorney and the defendant’s legal counsel work out an
agreement on how the case should end, subject to approval
by the judge and almost always by the victim, as well.
Many plea agreements involve the defendant pleading guilty
to a particular offense, to fewer of the charges in a multicount
indictment, or to an agreed sentence. Ultimately, the
goal of plea negotiation is to make sure the penalty fits the
crime. The certainty of a conviction and punishment is the
primary reason that prosecuting attorneys engage in plea
In cases involving multiple defendants, prosecutors may reach
a plea agreement with one defendant in exchange for his or
her testimony against another. This provides the prosecuting
attorney with a greater likelihood of winning a conviction
against other defendants.
A common misconception is that prosecuting attorneys use
plea agreements to increase their number of convictions,
simply for more “wins” in court. In fact, as ministers of justice
in their respective counties, prosecuting attorneys are sworn to
pursue justice for every offender charged with a crime.
Estimates vary, but most legal experts agree that 90 percent of all criminal convictions are the result of negotiated pleas.
Plea agreements ensure that criminals are convicted and
sentenced for their crimes, which enhances public safety.
Negotiated pleas also help relieve some of the strains on
overcrowded court dockets and, in so doing, save taxpayer
dollars. Without plea agreements, our courts would bog
down, justice might not always be served, and our criminal
justice system would be unaffordable for taxpayers.
Plea agreements benefit the criminal justice system. The sheer
volume and demand of cases filling a court docket require
some kind of reasonable – yet just – alternative to the time
and expense involved in scheduling and holding a trial.
Prison overcrowding is also an important consideration. To
further alleviate overcrowding in county jails and the state
prison system, judges may agree to “process out” certain lowlevel
Plea agreements also benefit victims of crime and their
families. They bring about an end to the case, and victims
are able to hear the defendants accept responsibility for the
crimes they have committed. Plea agreements may help avoid further
trauma for the victim.
Across Ohio, negotiated plea agreements annually save
taxpayers millions of dollars that can be better spent on other
cases that truly need jury trials to get a conviction or on other
vital needs within our criminal justice system.
For Ohio’s System of Justice, Plea Agreements:
|• Determine how a criminal case will end, and ensure
that the penalty fits the crime.
• Provide certainty for conviction and punishment,
rather than the unpredictability of a jury trial
• Ensure public safety with swift resolution and
conviction of guilty criminals.
• Reduce burden, strain and expense on crowded court
• Save victims from further trauma and involvement
in court proceedings.
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