Plea Bargaining Analysis

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The Summary of My Testimony on Plea-Bargaining
State legislators are considering a bill that bans all plea-bargaining in our state. As the leading expert on plea-bargaining, I’m aware of the instrumental role that it plays in our justice system. Therefore, I’m grateful that this committee wants to hear from me. From the outset, I would like to state my definitive position on this matter: that state legislators should not ban plea bargaining. To support this position, I offer the following testimony.
The Stakeholders and How a Plea-Bargaining Ban Will Affect Them
The stakeholders who benefit from plea-bargaining include judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, defendants, and the courts. Because of the proximity of these stakeholders, a ban
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First, a ban on plea-bargaining will increase the number of trial cases, thus requiring more time, money, and lawyers. To illustrate, when the state of Oklahoma considered the ban, former Oklahoma District Attorney, Wes Lane, stated that “there’s just not enough resources, judges, prosecutors and staff to remove plea deals.” He went on to say that a ban would require an annual budget increase from $8 million to $80 million cite. This leads to the second reason: It requires more from tax payers.
The constitution mandates certain duties of the justice system—adequate representation, the right to an attorney, etc.—which require public funding. Today, relevant stakeholders petition for an increase in that funding because the current budget is inadequate. If the current justice system is deficient financially, imagine the cost for a system without plea bargaining—It would require an astronomical increase in public funding.
The final reason, is that plea bargaining aids mutual interests. According to Courts: A Test/Reader, stakeholders favor plea-bargaining because it furthers “mutual interest in avoiding conflict, reducing uncertainty, and maintaining group cohesion (Cassia,
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After the judge formally reads criminal charges during the arraignment, the court expects the defendant to enter a plea. These charges are typically the maximum punishment that a defendant will face if they decide to go to trial, but the prosecutor presents a plea-deal giving the defendant the option to plead guilty to a lesser charge. A ban removes this option, however, requiring a plea of ”guilty“, ”not guilty“, or ”no contest“.
Sentence Bargaining. A sentence bargain is similar to a charge bargain, but rather than the defendant pleading down to a lesser charge, they plead to a lesser sentence. The defendant pleads guilty to the formal charges read during the arraignment in exchange for a lighter sentence. A ban removes this option and increases the sentencing of guilty defendants.
Trial. A ban on plea-bargaining will increase the number of cases that go to trial, which will require more public funding. Additionally, the surge of cases increases the likelihood of a dismissal because defendants have a right to a speedy
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