What is plea bargaining? Plea bargaining is the pre-trial negotiation, which takes place in a criminal procedure. During this procedure the defendant and has his attorney sits on one side, and the prosecutor is on the other. The defendant either agrees to plead “guilty” or “no contest” to a crime. Another element for plea bargaining would also be because the defendant reveals information such as location of stolen goods, names of others participating in the crime or admission of other crime(s), such as a string of burglaries.
In return a reduction in charges, or dismissal of some charges, this has to be approved by the judge, before accepting can take place. If the judge does not agree, then the plea bargain is cancelled. In the book Law for Dummies, it has been stated that at least 90 percent of all criminal cases never go to trial (p298).
There are several different reasons for a plea bargain. One of the first reasons why the prosecutor would want to propose a plea bargain would be because of the high volume of cases facing the United States judicial system. Without plea bargaining the courts would become backlogged, thus causing the state to also spend more money. Some reasons for a plea bargain may be to avoid the uncertainty of a jury trial.
With a plea bargain the defendant is given the certainty of receiving a lesser charge or the uncertainty of a jury trial in which the defendant may be found not guilty or found guilty of a more serious charge. In another case, the defendant may have culpability with others in a criminal matter, and at the same time have knowledge which will ensure the success of a broader or more significant prosecution…(Fastload). In cases such as this, this prosecution tries to secure the defendant’s willingness to testify for the prosecution in other cases, charges or sentencing in his or her own case may be offered to be lessened if he or she cooperates with the prosecution.Still in some cases, prosecutors may be convinced that they have the right defendant and a completely accurate charge as to what crime(s) he or she committed, and yet secure a conviction may be questionable. This of course is beneficial for both sides to arrange a resolution of the matter without either side taking the chance that the case may go against them if it was to go to trial. It was also proven in 1998, which 92 percent of the cases presented were returned by Manhattan grand juries. Statistic seems to support critics’ claims that the grand jury is little more than a rubber stamp…The majority of theses cases are resolved through plea agreements; fewer than 10 percent actually get to trial, and of those, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office claims a conviction rate of 75 to 80 percent (Berger 31).
Although plea bargaining may be beneficial, there are some people that may think that there are problems associated with it. Steven Silberblatt states, “to be voluntary” within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment a statement by a criminal defendant must be a product of free will, unencumbered by threats or promises. Coercion of any kind, whether physical or psychological is prohibited…(Silberblatt). This being the case, why is the Criminal Justice system permitted to make promises and threats in order to induce defendants to give up all of their constitutional rights, which includes the right to remain silent.In response to this the Family Right Association responded to these concerns by stating that a defendant in a court environment, surrounded by all the trapping of due process protects him or her from the possible abuse which might take place in a precinct.
The role of counsel is there to justify what the system does, and should there be something legally or factually wrong within the process, then it is counsels’ job to object and prevent the plea from being entered. However, it has been shown that the number of defendants have pleaded guilty because the system makes them offer they can’t refuse. The system functions like a gigantic extortion racket in which the attorney plays the role of “bagman”, the person who transmits the threats (under the guise of legal advice) and collects the payment (Silberblatt, 1998).Some other problems are also considering being dangers of an innocent defendant being pressured into a confession and plea out of fear of a server penalty if convicted. Then there’s the possibility of a vicious criminal getting lenient treatment and going right back on the streets in a short time. This may also cause a result of unequal treatment, which have made some states statues prohibiting the practice, however some informal discussions can get around the ban.
An example of innocent defendants accepting a plea bargain, are the five teenage.