plea bargaining

plea bar·​gain·​ing | \ ˈplē-ˌbär-gə-niŋ How to pronounce plea bargaining (audio) \

Definition of plea bargaining

: the negotiation of an agreement between a prosecutor and a defendant whereby the defendant is permitted to plead guilty to a reduced charge

Other Words from plea bargaining

plea-bargain \ ˈplē-​ˌbär-​gən How to pronounce plea bargaining (audio) \ intransitive verb
plea bargain noun

Examples of plea bargaining in a Sentence

As a result of plea bargaining, he would not be sentenced to death.
Recent Examples on the Web That quotation came from Judge Jackson’s undergraduate college thesis, which criticized the plea bargaining system. New York Times, 21 Mar. 2022 But as the legal system grew increasingly professionalized, plea bargaining became more common. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, 12 Jan. 2022 In particular, coercive plea bargaining artificially lowers the cost of obtaining a criminal conviction. Clark Neily And Somil Trivedi, WSJ, 12 Dec. 2021 Yet despite the drawbacks of trial by jury, the alternative—the ad hoc practice called plea bargaining—is far worse. Clark Neily And Somil Trivedi, WSJ, 12 Dec. 2021 Making sweeping changes to plea bargaining, downgrading the emphasis on forensic evidence and eyewitness testimony, and reducing prosecutorial discretion have little traction among law enforcement groups and political leaders. Washington Post, 19 Feb. 2021 Perhaps nothing contributes more to mass incarceration than plea bargaining. Washington Post, 19 Feb. 2021 The case could resovle in a lesser charge through plea bargaining. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 26 Aug. 2020 If a judge decides Stone’s complaint can go forward, the case could serve to shape the court system’s evolving view of plea bargaining. Kim Bellware, Washington Post, 5 Feb. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plea bargaining.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of plea bargaining

1932, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About plea bargaining

Time Traveler for plea bargaining

Time Traveler

The first known use of plea bargaining was in 1932

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near plea bargaining


plea bargaining


See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for plea bargaining

Cite this Entry

“Plea bargaining.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for plea bargaining

plea bargaining


Legal Definition of plea bargaining

: the negotiation of an agreement between the prosecution and the defense whereby the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser offense or to one or some of multiple offenses usually in exchange for more lenient sentencing recommendations, a specific sentence, or dismissal of other charges

Other Words from plea bargaining

plea-bargain intransitive verb
plea bargain noun

More from Merriam-Webster on plea bargaining Encyclopedia article about plea bargaining


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!