criminal court records
The vast majority of criminal cases - both felonies and misdemeanors - result in plea bargains.
Usually this means the prosecutor will drop some of the original charges against a defendant or reduce a charge to something less severe, in exchange for a guilty plea on the remaining charge or charges. The two sides also will agree on a sentence for the remaining charges (although a judge can overrule such plea bargain agreements).
A description of the charges to which a defendant agrees to plead guilty will be made part of the court record, usually at the sentencing hearing.
A plea bargain also will result in the preparation of a probation report to guide the judge in evaluating the proposed sentence.
A plea bargain can occur at any point in the criminal court proceeding, including after a formal trial has begun.
Sample Plea Agreement
- U.S. Senator Larry Craig - Smoking Gun website