Plea bargaining

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Plea bargaining, or plea negotiating, is the process where the accused and the prosecutor in a criminal case work out a satisfactory disposition of the case, usually by the accused agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser offense or agreeing to stipulate to certain facts that will give the defendant a lower offense level under the sentencing guidelines. Sometimes the prosecutor agrees not to present information to the court about prior convictions that would trigger mandatory minimum sentences. Such bargains are usually not binding on the court, although plea bargains made pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(c) are an exception, once the court has approved the agreement. Plea bargaining is sometimes criticized as letting offenders off too easily or coercing defendants into pleading guilty.[1] At the federal level, the guilty plea rate is 95%, largely because of plea bargaining.

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