Justice Process - Plea Bargain (Pre-trial Meeting)
The Crown prosecutor and the accused's lawyer, known as the defence counsel, will meet before the trial date to discuss the case.
What happens at a pre-trial meeting?
The Crown prosecutor and the defence lawyer may negotiate a resolution that works in the best interest of the accused person. The accused person always needs to tell the defence lawyer how they want to proceed with the case. If the accused agrees to the offer from the Crown prosecutor, the case will move forward.
Sometimes, in exchange for a guilty plea, the Crown may agree to:
- Withdraw some of the charges
- Reduce the charge to a lesser offence
- Ask the court for a lighter sentence
In this case, the Crown and defence counsel create an agreed statement of facts which helps to narrow the issues on trial so that the trial time is shortened.
Why are there plea bargains?
Plea bargains can work in everyone's best interest if the outcome is a fair one:
- The victim and any witnesses will not have to testify in court
- The court saves time and money by not going to trial
- The accused can know the outcome of their case and start serving their sentence right away.
The accused can only plead guilty if they are actually guilty. An accused person cannot plead guilty just to get the case over with, or if they are being forced. The accused must admit to the parts of the crime they are pleading guilty to, otherwise the plea can be rejected.
The victim does not take part in the plea bargain discussions but can find out about this by talking to the Crown prosecutor.