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It expected by the public for the truth to be discovered through the fact finding trial process. In practice plea bargaining may prevent a public finding of the facts and substitute a behind the scenes cut short plea bargaining process that fashions an offence that may or may not be supported by the evidence and this also determines the variety of penalties available to the court and limits the discussion of the evidence Palermo et al, Plea bargaining is a notion which is well known and generally used and accepted in the United States.

This usually consists of a deal being made between the prosecutor and the defence an example of plea bargaining is when the prosecution offers to drop a more serious charge against the accused in exchange for guilty plea of a lesser charge and the prosecutor and defence come to an agreement to resolve the case. This is usually done at various points up until the trial date. However the best bargain can be obtained earlier in the process Hall Williams, In colonial America the idea of trial by jury was accepted willingly as a hallmark of new found liberties.

However in the 19th century although people preferred the trial by jury system it was found that this method was losing ground fast.


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It was discovered in the early century that, the guilty plea was replacing trial by jury more often although guilty plea was being introduced slowly for example in the county of New York in the early it was found that more than three times as many criminal convictions had resulted from guilty pleas and not by jury trial or judge.

A sample of criminal cases which resulted in convictions between and reveal the popularity of guilty pleas, a third of all defendants in the Californian county of Alameda we convicted by guilty pleas and a majority of them pled guilty to fewer charges Friedman, Supporters of plea bargain claim that the practise has some necessary advantages for both the prosecution and the defence.

The prosecution for example use plea bargaining to speed up trials and to reduce the length of sentence time or sometimes in cases where the evidence is felt to not be strong enough plea bargain is used to induce a guilty plea Ashworth et al, According to Palermo he states that if all plea bargaining cases where brought to trial then the amount of time, work and expenses for the prosecution would increase greatly. He states also that the defence also benefit from plea bargaining in many ways for example they save a lot of money on defence costs, they benefit from a lighter sentence due to pleading guilty and they also avoid the emotional, stressful and social disruption caused due to the frequent attending of court.

It has been argued that plea bargain plea bargaining when used properly can benefit all parties concerned even the public. The use of plea bargaining avoids the risk of the defendant being cleared in court due to the evidence being weak or not enough and due to the rate cases are dealt with when plea bargaining is involved and practised it speeds up cases and saves the money on time consuming trials, freeing and making available criminal justice workers to attend to other cases. Therefore supporters of plea bargaining argue that at times it is in the interest of the public to at list compromise on the possibility of maximum sentences to at list ensure a conviction Ashworth, It is evident that plea bargaining is a widespread practise in most countries.

They are many countries who practise plea bargaining as part of their criminal justice system. One of those countries is The Netherlands where their criminal court system is divided in to 19 district courts. According to Gertz he states that each of these districts there are what they call police courts, where one judge hears the least serious cases and is allowed to impose a maximum sentence of six months. However they are also courts where there is more than one judge and it is in these courts where they try all serious cases, although about 90 percent of cases are heard in the police courts.

This principle is a form of plea bargaining in the Netherlands. Under this policy, prosecutors and the police have more discretion when it comes to the processing of cases to achieve the best outcome to best suit the desires of the public, the needs of the defendant and also whilst meeting the ends of justice. According to Gertz this practise some how mirrors the American practices, he states in his research that both in theory and practise the opportunity principle was supported by all the people he contacted and it was presumed that this method was a civilized way of conducting the business of the courts.

In the United States plea bargaining is an important element of the criminal justice system. The prosecutors use plea bargaining to negotiate sentencing discounts for those defendants who may wish to avoid a lengthy trial and save the state a large sum of money and also spare their victims or witnesses the stress of giving evidence. They can do this by admitting the crime which they are being charged or agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser one. Plea bargaining has become the norm in the American criminal justice system however in England and Wales it is claimed to be unacceptable and largely non existent.

Gertz, In contrast to the American system where plea bargaining is largely recognised and regulated by the courts. In England and Wales there is no institutionalised structure in which plea bargain occurs and to some point the official response is both tricky and inconsistent Sabor, However according to Berlins the issue of plea bargaining being introduced in England and Wales has been from time to time debated until recently when the attorney general Lady Scotland announced a provisional step into that direction.

According to Berlins Lady Scotland proposed that fraudsters would have the opportunity to negotiate lesser sentences if they admit their guilt.

What Is Plea Bargaining?

The difference is that the agreement would then be presented to a judge for approval. However the judge is not bound to accept the agreement he could either insist on going to trial or propose they negotiate an even tough sentence if he or she feels that the sentence negotiated is not adequate enough to fit the crime.

English law closely identifies with justice and also the word justice frequently used in the legal system an example is the Youth justice system and the Justice of the peace and many more. In order to achieve justice they are so many factors that contribute to crime that need to be considered, these are educational, social moral and psychological and this can be difficult to get to Palermo et al, Berlins in his article stated that plea bargaining has many flaws and these flaws bring into light a number of justice problems.

Berlins highlights that an innocent person maybe forced into pleading guilty and agreeing to a less harsh sentence. However in other cases it maybe because the accused just wants to avoid having the cloud of the up coming trial hanging over them and so they decide to negotiate and plead to a lesser charge even if they are innocent Berlins, The general public gets angry because criminals who are a danger to society are getting away with crime due the fact that they have struck a plea bargain deal with the prosecutor which is unfair especially with serious crimes such as murder where the prosecution would for example agree to a plea of guilty to accidental killing when in fact the accused will have committed murder.

The prosecutor would offer such a deal rather run the risk of a jury acquitting the accused altogether Berlins, Generally plea bargaining involves processes of informal negotiation between the prosecutor and the defence lawyer with the main aim of reaching a settlement out of court.

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Courts have generally upheld bargains whereby one defendant agrees to testify against another defendant or to provide evidence that incriminates another suspect. Some criminal defendants have sought to challenge these arrangements when other defendants have testified against them. For example, in United States v.

Singleton , F.


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A trial court convicted Singleton of conspiring to distribute drugs and of Money Laundering. Singleton's attorney argued during the trial and later on appeal that the deal between the prosecutors and Douglas amounted to Bribery in violation of 18 U.

Criticism of plea bargaining gaining momentum in the US

Although a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit initially agreed with Singleton, the court sitting en banc over-ruled the panel and affirmed the conviction. According to the court, the federal bribery statute did not apply to the federal government with respect to plea bargains. Defendants are not required to enter into plea negotiations or accept a plea agreement offer. Some defendants choose to decline a plea bargain if they believe that the risk of conviction is outweighed by the possibility of acquittal. Other defendants may disregard the risks and make a principled choice to proceed to trial.

Some of these defendants seek to use trial proceedings as a forum for expressing dissent, and others merely wish to exercise their constitutional right to a trial or to publicly declare their version of events. Prosecutors, likewise, are not obliged to plea bargain. When the alleged crime is particularly heinous or the case is highly publicized or politically charged, a prosecutor may be reluctant to offer any deals to the defendant in deference to victims or public sentiment.

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For example, a prosecutor may not offer a bargain to a person accused of a brutal rape and murder because such acts are widely considered to deserve the maximum allowable punishment. The political influence on plea bargaining is more nebulous. Because prosecutors are hired by federal, state, and local governments, they often have political ties. If a case involves a prominent member of a political party, a prosecutor may refuse to offer a plea bargain to avoid the appearance of favoritism.

When a court accepts a plea agreement, the guilty plea operates as a conviction, and the defendant cannot be retried on the same offense. However, if the defendant breaches a plea agreement, the prosecution may reprose-cute the defendant. For example, assume that Defendant A, as part of the plea agreement, must testify against Defendant B. If Defendant A pleads guilty pursuant to this agreement but later refuses to testify against Defendant B, the prosecutor may seek a revocation of the plea agreement and guilty plea.

If the government breaches a plea agreement, the defendant may seek to withdraw the guilty plea, ask the court to enforce the agreement, or ask the court for a favorable modification in the sentence. The government breaches a plea agreement when it fails to deliver its part of the plea agreement. For example, if a prosecutor agrees to dismiss a certain charge but later reneges on this promise, the defendant may withdraw her guilty plea. An unenthusiastic sentence recommendation by a prosecutor is not a breach of a plea agreement United States v.

Benchimol , U. Some prosecutors demand that defendants waive certain constitutional rights in exchange for a plea bargain. One such right involves Brady evidence, which consists of exculpatory or Impeachment evidence that tends to prove the factual innocence of the defendant. Under the case of Brady v. Maryland , U. Supreme Court requires prosecutors to inform defendants of such evidence. In , the U. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that it was unconstitutional for prosecutors to withhold a departure recommendation on grounds that the defendant refused to waive his or her right to Brady evidence United States v.

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Ruiz , F. A unanimous Supreme Court, however, disagreed, holding that the "Constitution does not require the government to disclose material evidence prior to entering a plea agreement with a criminal defendant" United States v. Ruiz , U. When a prosecutor or defendant revokes a plea agreement, the statements made during the bargaining period are not admissible against the defendant in a subsequent trial. This rule is designed to foster free and open negotiations.

There are, however, notable exceptions. The rule applies only to prosecutors: a defendant's statements to government agents are admissible. Furthermore, a prosecutor may use statements made by the defendant during plea negotiations at a subsequent trial to impeach the defendant's credibility after the defendant testifies.

Plea bargaining or Sentence bargaining

Many jurisdictions maintain statutes that require victim notification of plea bargaining. In Indiana, for example, a prosecutor must notify the victim of a felony of negotiations with the defendant or the defendant's attorney concerning a recommendation that the prosecutor may make to the court.