Not all civil and criminal cases go to trial. If you sue someone in a civil matter, like a contract dispute, you can reach a resolution out of court. Similarly, if you are charged with a crime, you and the state might reach a settlement without going to trial; this kind of settlement is generally called a "plea bargain." A settlement demand initiates the process of reaching an out-of-court agreement.
Basics of Settlements
If you believe you have been wronged, you can send a settlement demand letter to the offending person or company. This can serve as a formal notice that gives the person or company a chance to fix the problem outside of court. For example, if someone owes you money, you can send a settlement demand requesting payment by a certain date. If you are currently involved in a lawsuit, your lawyer can send the opposing party a letter proposing an out-of-court agreement; the other party can agree or disagree with the demand or negotiate the terms. If you are charged with a crime, a plea bargain settlement might lessen your sentence or even the magnitude of your crime. For example, if you are charged with first degree murder and face a potential sentence of 20 years to life, your lawyer can propose a manslaughter conviction and 15 years incarceration. If a settlement demand leads to an agreement, you and your opponent save the time, money and grief often associated with a trial; however, look into the specific laws of your state. Some settlement-related evidence may be admissible at trial, so be certain to carefully choose the information you share to avoid later disadvantages in case your negotiations fail.