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Posted on in Criminal Law

plea bargain, criminal defense, Arlington Heights Criminal Defense LawyerAlthough riveting courtroom dramas serve as the dramatic climax in countless movies, books, and TV shows, most criminal matters are resolved without such a high-stakes intellectual duel.

Plea bargaining first appeared in the 1880s, which is not very long ago when considering the fact that criminal trials date back to Biblical times. In one of the earliest recorded cases, Albert McKenzie, who pilfered $52.50 from his sewing machine company employer, pled guilty to misdemeanor embezzlement to avoid a felony trial. The practice grew steadily before exploding in the 1980s and 1990s, partially in response to the federal government’s "war on crime" that drastically increased the minimum sentences for even low-level offenses.

Today, although estimates vary, around 95 percent of criminal cases are disposed of by plea bargain. By comparison, again depending on the location, about 85 percent of civil cases are settled out of court.

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