an agreement between the government and the defendant to resolve a pending criminal case by the defendant's entering a guilty plea rather than going to trial. The prosecutor may agree to dismiss or reduce certain charges, recommend a certain sentence, or agree with the defendant that a certain sentence is appropriate in return for the defendant's entering a guilty plea and, in some cases, providing information to the prosecutor.
Many cases are resolved by plea agreement, in which the defendant enters a plea of guilty to some or all of the charges filed against him or her, rather than taking the case to trial. The Court will ask the defendant and the State if there is a chance the case will be resolved through plea agreement, and will set a deadline by which any discussion of a plea must take place. The deputy prosecutor assigned to the case must consider many factors before discussing a plea with the defendant, including the nature of the crime, the risk to the community, and the impact of the crime on the victim.
Sometimes inaccurately called "plea bargaining," this is a term used to describe a method of disposing of case without a trial. Most defendants plead guilty. Once a defendant decides to plead guilty, it is up to the District Attorney's Office and the defendant's attorney to work out an agreement to present to the judge. The defendant may agree to plead guilty to the crime(s) charged or to a lesser offense, and there may be an agreement that the District Attorney's Office will recommend a sentence to the judge. The judge may accept or reject the plea. Although you will not have the final say as to what sentence is given, the District Attorney's Office is interested in your viewpoint.