Plea Bargaining Essay

817 Words4 Pages

What is Plea Bargaining?
Plea bargaining is a common practice in the criminal justice system that results in most criminal convictions. Plea Bargaining can happen from charging a defendant to before a verdict is attained. Normally, it involves a negotiation between the prosecutor and defense attorney to arrive at a bargain, which can lead to reduced charges and a shorter sentence. Through plea bargaining, the prosecution may decrease the number of charges against the defendant and suggest a more lenient punishment, such as probation. In exchange for a guilty plea, the prosecutor may also offer to change the charge to one that is deemed more socially acceptable. Defendants have three plea options - guilty, not guilty, and nolo contendere. A …show more content…

The textbook says, “we tend to treat people as individuals. One person who commits a robbery is not the same as another person who commits a robbery” (Dempsey) This illustrates the unfairness of the use of discretion. "The process may result in waivers by defendants of their constitutional rights, unequal representation by counsel, the threat of unequal sentencing, and the possibility that guilty pleas will be entered by innocent defendants. Moreover, courts are not required to accept any plea agreements." (McDonough) Statements made during plea bargaining can be used in court if the agreement falls through. Douglas Smith stated plea bargaining "can be used by influential defendants to evade legal sanctions… the belief that defendants convicted at trial are sentenced more harshly than those convicted by plea." (Smith, 1986) According to Smith, plea bargaining is characterized as a series of "threats and promises by legal officials that induce defendants to forfeit many of their legal rights and plead guilty." (Smith, 1986) Columbia Law Review argued that defense attorneys have a culture of accepting guilty pleas, stating that "an opponent of 'bargain justice' may seek comfort in the concept of a bygone golden age in which plea negotiation was unknown." (Alschuler, 1979) The textbook brings up the concern that police heavily impact plea deals, “The police officer is generally the first decision maker in the U.S. criminal justice system and often the most important.” (Dempsey) An officers decisions can impact the prosecutions defense. Plea bargaining raises concerns about the risk of innocent people being wrongfully convicted if they’re persuaded to accept a plea

Open Document