Courts and prosecutors’ offices in New York face a constant flow of criminal defendants. Because judges want to process cases as quickly as possible and avoid burdensome backlogs and long waits for trial dates, they generally approve of plea deals. Prosecutors desire to focus time and resources on serious crimes instead of cases that involve relatively minor offenses.
Awareness of limited prison space often prompts judges to affirm plea deals created by prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys. The reduced charges, which are typically part of a bargain, enable judges to give lighter sentences that might not include prison or jail time.
There are multiple reasons for prosecutors to engage in plea bargaining. A plea bargain, even one with a light sentence, represents a conviction. With these deals, prosecutors can maintain high figures for convictions. By disposing of most cases without a trial, prosecutors reserve their budgets and time for the trials of people accused of serious crimes like murder. Some prosecutors must also deal with limited budgets. Trials require much more money to manage than the negotiation of a plea deal. When constrained by financial considerations, a prosecutor might be discriminating about which cases are actually taken to trial.
If a person is charged with a crime and chooses to hire a lawyer, the attorney might be well aware of the pressure on the criminal justice system to expedite case processing. When an attorney presents a client with options for a criminal defense, a plea bargain could be included. An attorney might persuade a prosecutor to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor or promise a lenient sentence. To accomplish this, the lawyer may challenge the reliability of evidence or highlight the nonviolent nature of the original crime.