Plea Bargaining in Minneapolis, Minnesota

The practice of plea bargaining is considered to be a boon for the overcrowded court system of modern Minnesota. (Elazar, Gray & Spano, 1999) The practice allows suspects and prosecutors to avoid the expense, time and resources necessary to prosecute a criminal case. (Elazar, Gray & Spano, 1999) In Minnesota, the process for entering pleas for felonies and misdemeanors is clearly defined. (Elazar, Gray & Spano, 1999)

Rule fifteen of the Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure offers the guidelines for the process of plea agreements in Minnesota courts. (Minnesota Rules…2008) The prosecution may enter into these agreements if they feel that such an agreement would further the interests of the public in effective administration of justice. The prosecutors may only discuss plea agreements with the defendants’ attorneys.

(Minnesota Rules…2008) The defense attorney may only agree to a plea agreement with the consent of the defendant his or herself. (Minnesota Rules…2008) The court has the option of delaying a decision about a plea agreement pending an investigation of the facts of the case. (Minnesota Rules…2008) If the court decides to reject the plea agreement, he or she makes that statement in open court, and asks the defendant if he or she wishes to withdraw or enter the plea. In considering a plea, the court reviews several factors.

(Minnesota Rules…2008) One of these is whether the agreement serves the interest of the public. Another is whether the defendant will plead guilty to facilitate correctional elements of the agreement. An important consideration is whether the defendant has accepted responsibility for the act, and has acknowledged guilt. Still another consideration is whether the agreement will allow a more effective execution of the system’s goals of rehabilitation and protection of the public.

(Minnesota Rules…2008) The defendant may improve his or her own chances of a successful agreement by allowing the court to avoid an expensive, and resource-consuming trial, offering evidence against other offenders, and/or aiding in the administration of justice for his and other cases. (Minnesota Rules…2008) Once an agreement has been reached, the trial judge reviews the terms of the plea, and, if it involves entering a plea of guilty, he or she will question the defendant with respect to the guilty plea. (Minnesota Rules…2008)

This questioning is under guidelines from rule 15. 01, which indicates the procedure the judge must follow. (Minnesota Rules…2008) The judge must ascertain the name, age, date and place of birth of the defendant, and discover whether he or she needs an interpreter to understand the proceedings. (Minnesota Rules…2008) The judge then ascertains that defendant understands the charges and the terms of the plea agreement. The court then asks if the defendant understands the specific charges and asks if he or she wishes to enter a plea.

(Minnesota Rules…2008) When the defendant enters a plea of guilty, he or she must describe the circumstances that surround the act for which they are pleading guilty. (Minnesota Rules…2008) The process for plea agreements is set up to ensure that an innocent person does not accept punishment for crimes they did not commit, and that justice is served by administering a sentence upon a guilty party without the need for a trial in every case.

Since such arrangements are voluntary on the part of all participants, this method of administering justice is accepted as fair and just working of the Criminal Justice System. Work Cited Elazar, D, Gray, V. & Spano, W. (1999) Minnesota Politics and Government University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NB. Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure (2008) Retrieved May 31st, 2009 from Minnesota Judicial Branch website: http://www. mncourts. gov/default. aspx? page=511#criminal