University of Phoenix
CJA/373 – Criminal Court Systems
Week Four - Individual Assignment
July 14, 2010
Much of the criticism leveled at the legal system in general and the criminal justice system in particular is well-deserved, but one feature of the criminal justice system poorly understood and thus unfairly judged by both the public and the media, is the process of plea bargaining. Because criminal defendants have no incentive to plead guilty as charged, and because the number of cases that would otherwise need to be tried vastly exceeds the resources available to try them, plea bargaining is a strategy for avoiding total gridlock. Definitions of Plea Bargaining
The process of negotiating an agreement among the prosecutor, defense attorney, and the court as to what an appropriate plea and associated sentence should be in a given case (Criminal Law Today).
A preconviction deal-making process between the state and the accused in which the defendant exchanges a plea of guilty or nolo contendere (which means plea of no contest to charges) for a reduction in charges, a promise of sentencing leniency, or some other concession from full, maximum implementation of the conviction and sentencing authority of the court (Criminal Courts: Structure, Process, and Issues). Benefits from Plea Bargaining
The defendant benefits in that a sentence is accepted, which is much shorter and less severe than a sentence that may have been imposed had the case proceeded to trial and the person had been convicted.
The criminal justice system benefits in that a trial involves considerable preparation and expense. Juries do not always convict guilty defenders and plea bargains avoid trials and the often difficult burden of proving defendants guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Plea Bargaining and the Defendant’s Rights
According to Champion, “the plea agreement process may lack sufficient guarantees to ensure...
References: Champion, J., Hartley, R., Rabe, G. (2008). Criminal Courts: Structure, Process, and Issues, Second Edition. Chapters 8-10 pp 297-464. Prentice Hall, Pearson Education, Inc. 2008.
Schmalleger, F., Hall, D., Dolatowski, J. (2010). Criminal Law Today, Fourth Edition.
Chapter 14 pp 434-477. Prentice Hall, Pearson Education, Inc. 2010.
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