Define Plea Bargaining
Crimes are committed every day across the United States of America. Many of these crimes never make it to trial because the individual agrees to a plea bargain with the prosecution.According to “Cornell University Law School” (n.d.), ” Plea bargains are agreements between defendants and prosecutors where defendants agree to plead guilty to some or all of the charges against them in exchange for concessions from the prosecutors.” An example of this would be a criminal who was charged with trafficking drugs was offered a lesser sentence such as probation in exchange for their testimony against a bigger drug dealer.
Distinguish between charge bargaining and sentence bargaining
There are two different types of plea bargaining, charge bargaining, and sentence bargaining. Charge bargaining happens when the defendant and the prosecutor negotiate the terms of the charges that will be filed against the defendant. An example of charge bargaining would be if a prosecutor agrees with a defendant to accept a plea of manslaughter and drop the charges of 1st degree murder. Sentence bargaining involves the negotiation of how the defendant will be sentenced by the prosecution and defendant. An example of sentence bargaining would be when the defendant agrees to plead guilty to manslaughter for a sentence of probation.
Compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of plea bargaining
Plea bargaining can have advantages as well as disadvantages. Almost all prosecutors and district attorneys are overwhelmed with large case loads and limited resources to accomplish the investigation and trial of these cases. Plea bargaining provides an advantage to the prosecutor or DA allowing them to move some cases along without having to spend time investigating and preparing for a trial. This allows them to get some form of punishment in many cases that they may not have otherwise been able to get punishment for because of a lack of evidence or because a mistake had been made while gathering evidence and information. Plea bargains allow for a case to be completed in a shorter period of time then if the case had been required to go to trial. A public defender and private defense attorney can benefit from plea bargaining because plea bargaining speeds the case along allowing the public defender to focus on other cases that are more likely to go to court. The courts benefit from plea bargaining as well. Plea bargaining speeds the process up allowing the courts to spend less time and resources on the trial of the case. Last but not least the victims can also benefit from a plea bargain. The trial can be stressful for victims and a plea bargain can speed the process up giving the victims satisfaction that the case has been dealt with possibly keeping them from having to testify in a trial. Plea bargains benefit some of those involved helping to reduce the amount of money needed to deal with a case.
Like most things that have benefits, plea bargains also come with downfalls. The biggest downfall to plea bargains is that the defendant gives up some of their rights such as the right to a trial by a jury of their peers or the chance at an acquittal. In some cases a defendant may accept a plea bargain giving up their chance at acquittal because they feel that even though they may be innocent there is little chance that they can prove it. There is one other downfall to plea bargains. Sometimes the prosecutor does not have the ability to try the case and get the results or verdict that they believe is just. The prosecutor can be forced to accept a plea bargain because of procedural violations by investigators or other police officers involved in the case.
Describe how plea bargaining reflects or thwarts the crime control and due process models of criminal justice
Many people do not agree with plea bargaining. These people feel that plea bargaining undermines the criminal justice system. One of the key features of the criminal justice system is due process. Plea bargaining circumvents the due process of the criminal justice system. The biggest problem with plea bargaining is that the criminal in many cases gets off with little or no punishment for the crime that they have committed. If an individual commits murder but there is not enough evidence to get a conviction, the prosecutor may offer the criminal a plea bargain with little or no punishment in order to get a confession. This criminal is now free to commit further crimes with a possibility of not being caught again. On the other side plea bargaining is not good in some cases because a person may be threatened to take a plea bargain from the prosecutor, offering up a confession, because the prosecutor threatened to go after the death penalty. This individual may be innocent but felt that his best chance to avoid the death penalty was to accept the plea bargain.
Plea bargains are an effective tool for the criminal justice system that can be used to save time and money in many cases. Plea bargains can also have a negative effect on the criminal Justice system. Plea bargains continue to be a controversy because of their cons but continue to be used because of their benefits. Although some states have taken steps to eliminate or limit plea bargaining, many states continue to use plea bargains to help bring cases to a close in a timely manner.
Cornell University Law School. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/plea_bargain
Find Law. (2013). Retrieved from http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-procedure/plea-bargaining-areas-of-negotiation.html
Siegel, L. J., Schmalleger, F., & Worrall, J. L. (2011). Courts and Criminal Justice in America. Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection.
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