Plea Agreement

Most criminal cases resolve with a plea agreement. The prosecutor may reduce the potential punishment in exchange for the defendant pleading guilty to one or more charges. During the negotiating process, another judge may conduct a settlement conference to see if the parties can reach an agreement. If a defendant pleads guilty, there will be no trial, and case proceeds to sentencing.


All defendants charged with felonies have a right to a jury trial. Some misdemeanors are only eligible for a bench trial before a judge. During trial, the prosecutor will call witnesses and present evidence. The defense attorney may, but does not have to, call witnesses and present evidence. Then the prosecutor may present rebuttal evidence. The members of the jury must all agree as to whether the prosecutor has proven that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that each member of the jury must be firmly convinced that the defendant is guilty.