According to Siegel, Schmalleger, and Worrall (2011), Plea Bargaining may be traced back as early as the 1800s. Plea Bargaining became more common in the mid 1900s as caseloads overwhelmed the court system. Georgia’s Department of Public Welfare reported the rate of guilty pleas increased to 70% and New York reported a rise of 90% (p. 236). People believed the use of plea bargaining was a lazy route and did not serve the true retribution deserved by the criminal. If not for plea bargaining the judicial system would crumble. Define Plea Bargaining
Plea bargaining is the result of an agreement between the prosecutor and defendant in criminal cases. The plea bargain will result in a lesser charge, or lesser sentence, or to some of the charges where multiple indictments exist for the exchange of a guilty plea by the defendant. The plea entered is subject to court approval and will make the agreement binding if approved by the court (Siegel, Schmalleger, & Worrall, p. 319, 2011). The prosecutor and defense will carry out the plea bargain prior to any judicial review. The process of plea bargain allows the prosecutor full discretion to drop the charges or alter charges.
Plea bargains are not always favorable therefore plea bargains need to be understood and voluntary. There are cases in which the prosecutor will use plea bargaining as an unlevel field to have the person charged to speak up about other potential suspects. There are procedural issues that could arise and potentially set a criminal free from prosecution. When this takes place the prosecutor will roll the dice and offer a plea bargain prior to dropping the case. Distinguish between Charge Bargaining and Sentence Bargaining The prosecution uses two types of plea bargaining if applicable.
These are charge bargaining and sentence bargaining. It is important to distinguish between the two. Charge bargaining is the negotiating by the prosecutor with the defendant on what charges can be filed. This is a tactic used prior to charge the suspect. This is another resource used by the prosecution to make someone talk. When concerning white collar crimes, drug cartel, and gang related crimes this tactic is used to get to the top of the mastermind. Catching the little guy is not as important as the information that can be provided to bring down a syndicate.
The prosecutor will tell the defendant, we will charge you with this crime, only if you provide reliable information, and in turn charge you with a lesser crime (Siegel, Schmalleger, & Worrall, pp. 320-321, 2011). Sentencing plea is commonly seen used in the municipal courts and used in the higher courts. The defendant acknowledges the accountability for the crime committed and will accept the agreement to a guilty plea for a less serious sentence. An example of this would be when a person who has been ticketed for a speeding offense.
The prosecutor offers the defendant the plea bargain in which the offer is to plead guilty to a no seat belt charge with no points, but with a higher fine. The defendant should accept the plea agreement and then stand before the court. The Judge will confirm that the defendant understands the plea agreement and the consequences. The defendant will reply with acknowledgement and enter the plea as agreed. Compare and Contrast the Advantages and Disadvantages of Plea Bargaining The primary advantage of the plea bargain is the outcome if agreed will result with a guilty plea.
There are other reason to why the plea bargaining benefits the entity of the judicial system. The prosecutor can work through an easier caseload. The prosecutor is able to choose which case will benefit public element and result in guilty convictions. The public defender that is the most commonly used criminal defense attorney will benefit because of caseloads, resources, and cost restraints. The plea bargain allows the public defender to spend the time on trials worthy of need. The court benefits with saving judicial resources.
Other advantages with the plea bargaining would be with cases that may not come to a guilty verdict. The use of the plea bargain is a gamble but can work to its advantage. The victims can also benefit from plea bargains. When a victim is afraid to take the stand as a witness or horrified to testify the plea bargain becomes a useful tool. The prosecution can obtain a guilty verdict in turn giving closure in a timely manner for the victim (Siegel, Schmalleger, & Worrall, p. 321, 2011). Not all plea bargains come with advantages. There are disadvantages to the plea bargain.
The defendant can lose many rights if a plea is accepted. “Criminal defendants lose their chance at an acquittal and, sometimes, lose important rights, including the right to a trial by jury” (Siegel, Schmalleger, & Worrall, 2011, p. 321). In some cases the prosecutor will plea bargain with the most serious of charges which may over exceed the actual charge itself. According to Siegel, Schmalleger, and Worrall (2011), the bargaining is similar to a used car dealer. The negotiation starts at an outrageous price and the negotiation start from that point.
The result end with few people buying the vehicle at fair market value. The same principle applies with the plea bargains. The concern that one might accept a plea, to a charge, that if convicted by a trial, may have been less severe (Siegel, Schmalleger, & Worrall, p. 321, 2011). Describe how Plea Bargaining Reflects or Thwarts the Crime Control and Due Process Models of Criminal Justice The people are against plea bargaining, and some state have done away or banned the use of plea bargains in certain types of criminal charges.
The reasons are that people may be coerced into taking a plea even when they are not guilty. Critics of the plea bargaining argue that criminals are getting off to easy and true retribution is not sought. The critic also claim that leniency towards harsher crimes do not deter criminal activity. In either case essentially the argument brings forth that defendants can negotiate their way through an inadequate punishment (Siegel, Schmalleger, & Worrall, p. 322, 2011). Essentially plea bargaining’s intentions are to handle many caseloads in certainty of a guilty plea.
The plea bargain has showed the effectiveness with the increased percentage of guilty pleas. Some states have tested the system of pleading and found in some circumstances the effect not worthy. Other states have justified a limit to what extent a plea bargain can be used with a crime. The outcome is simple, when accepted; a guilty plea is a win for the prosecution. Caseloads for the prosecution and public defender are workable and saving cost within the judicial system.