Plea bargaining is the process by which a criminal defendant can negotiate to plead guilty to a lesser crime than originally charged and thus face a lighter sentence. A crown prosecutor, as an official representative of the attorney general, has the authority to negotiate a plea bargain. Your lawyer may advise this course of action if he or she feels that your defence case is not failsafe, or it may be proposed by the prosecution if they feel their case is in some way weak. Often, both parties agree to a plea bargaining process in order to save time and money. Certainly, such a process can lead to a significant potential reduction of your sentence.
There are three principal categories of plea bargaining in Canada. Firstly, the defence and prosecution agree to the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser charge, or a possible stay of other secondary charges. An agreement not to charge friends or family of the defendant could also be included. Secondly, you and your lawyer might proceed with sentence bargaining, wherein the prosecution promises certain conditions such as pushing for a lighter sentence, proceeding before a particular judge, not recommending certain kinds of imprisonment, and a variety of other promises relating to your sentence. Finally, fact bargaining consists of the prosecution agreeing to not volunteer certain information or to mention certain aspects of the accused offence that might aggravate your case before the judge. Your lawyer can help you navigate this complex issue which in Canada can be confusing and unclear.