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1.In contract law, a bargain is a voluntary agreement between two parties in exchange for consideration. Consideration, here, can be money, goods, services, or a promise to do something. For example, if someone agrees to clean a bedroom in exchange for $50, that is a bargain. However, all bargains do not necessarily constitute contracts. If an agreement involves an illegal transaction or the consideration is insufficient or illegal, the bargain does not amount to a contract.

2.In criminal law, bargain is used to describe several prosecutorial practices such as plea bargaining or fact bargaining.

  • Plea bargain is a usually an agreement between a prosecutor and a criminal defendant whereby the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for a more lenient sentence or a dismissal of other charges.
  • Fact bargain refers to an agreement between a prosecutor and a defendant ascertaining some facts as true in exchange for the prosecutor’s not introducing  other facts that would be detrimental to the defendant.

[Last updated in May of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]