In some types of cases it is not uncommon for a prosecutor to offer a plea bargain where the accused is offered an opportunity to plead to a lesser offense and avoid the risk of losing the case at trial. For instance, an individual charged with second degree murder might plead guilty to manslaughter and receive a shorter amount of prison time.
Why does this happen? It may be that there isn’t strong evidence to get a conviction. Instead of trying a weak case at taxpayer’s expense, a prosecutor will accept a lesser penalty in exchange for a guilty plea prior to trial. Another reason that a plea may be offered is because the family of the victim or the victim themselves may ask for leniency.
For instance, if a teenager kills one of their friends in an alcohol-related car accident, the victim’s parents may ask that no jail time be served as it may not help anyone. Victims may also request leniency if the person who committed the crime shows genuine remorse.
Finally, a plea may be offered to someone who has no criminal history and has been cooperative throughout the legal process. An example would be someone who was charged with drug possession being put into a rehabilitation program for first-time offenders. This puts the focus on helping those who may not truly be a danger to society despite being charged with a serious crime.