Plea Bargains in Criminal Court

*this article was updated May 20, 2022

Cutting a deal with the prosecutor is not a dirty thing. Usually, it benefits everyone. Here are some examples of how:

1. There are not enough resources for the government to hold trials for everyone who is charged, especially since the pandemic. Plea bargains take the pressure off the system.

2. Most witnesses do not want to have to testify in court. Plea bargains take the pressure off witnesses.

3. Experienced counsel - both defence counsel and crown attorneys - can often tell by looking at the evidence how the case would end if there was a trial. There is little point in spending up to a year or more waiting for a trial date, and putting the accused and witnesses through a full trial, only to have a result that could have been accomplished in an early plea bargain.

If you are interested in settling, here are some things I will consider when deciding what a good plea bargain would be for your particular case:

  • can the prosecutor prove the charge, based on the evidence in the disclosure?
  • if you are charged with more than one offence, which is the most serious?
  • given your plans for your future, which charge will impact on you more?
  • which charge has the worst set of facts and could therefore lead to a stiffer sentence?
  • how do the charges interact with your existing criminal record, if any?
  • which charges have implications under provincial legislation, if any?
  • what are your personal priorities in sentencing (no jail, no probation, no criminal record, no fine, etc.), and are you being rational about them?
  • what stage are you at in your immigration process, if applicable, and how will the charges effect that?
  • when is the best time to approach the prosecutor with this offer?
  • can this offer be presented in a way that will not hurt your chances at trial if your case goes to trial (i.e. to not tip off the prosecutor about a surprise defence you may have)?
  • how will a result in your criminal case effect a potential civil lawsuit?

To book a consultation to discuss your case, please call 613.203.4874 or contact me through my website form at CriminalLawInOttawa.ca.