Plea bargaining is an essential feature of criminal defense practice. Not all cases go to trial--they are expensive, time consuming and with an uncertain outcome. Clients also understand that they have a degree of control in the outcome of a criminal case when they enter into a bargain with the prosecutor. Such bargains guarantee what charge will be recorded and the exact punishment. No such control exits if the case is tried and the verdict is unfavorable. In such case, the court may do whatever it chooses.
Plea bargaining is an art and requires a combination of people skills, strategic thought and courage. It's a negotiation and the defense attorney must seek as favorable a negotiating partner as possible-- the stage must be set.
In one recent case, my goal was to obtain a bargain that was similar to one that I had obtained for a client from the same prosecution office two years before. I came to court prepared to hear "no" from the prosecutor. I then presented written proof of the prior case disposition. This swayed the prosecutor to my side and the bargain was struck. I saved my client a jail term and other mandatory probation conditions.
I returned to court a week later to resolve the case. While waiting in court, I happened to speak to another lawyer about the sad state of the seating area for attorneys in that courtroom. He then shared with me his case that day--it was very much like mine (with facts a bit more favorable) but he had been turned down by the very same prosecutor for the bargain I had obtained for my client. The key for me was to go the extra mile for my client and produce written proof showing the prior bargain.
Choosing an attorney who really cares about what he's doing (and whose done it before) can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.