A Review of the Literature: Plea Bargaining and Ethics in the Criminal Justice System |
Plea bargaining is a significant portion of today’s criminal justice system. As Chief Justice Burger stated, “The disposition of criminal charges by agreement between the prosecutor and the accused, sometimes loosely called ‘plea bargaining,’ is an essential component of the administration of justice. Properly administered, it is to be encouraged” (Santobello v. New York, 1971). The practice of plea bargaining has generated thoughtful ethical debate with effective arguments on both sides. Prior to offering an opinion, an understanding and comparison of the points of view ...view middle of the document...
With implicit plea bargains, no compromise of leniency is assured by the prosecutor. This classification of plea bargaining merely suggests the possibility of leniency if there is a plea of guilty by the defendant (Bibas, 2011).
Reducing a sentence is included in charge bargaining, sentence bargaining, and count bargaining. Once the defense accepts the option of charge bargaining, they will propose a sentence reduction to the prosecution and/or magistrate in return for a guilty plea. Charge bargaining can produce extremely volatile public and political responses (Devers, 2011). If a defendant is initially charged with a felonious act, the acceptance of charge bargaining could result in a lowering of charges to a lesser misdemeanor offense. Sentence bargaining involves the trade of a guilty plea with the assurance of the prosecutor to request a lighter or alternative sentence, however, this agreement is not guaranteed. It is the presiding judge’s choice, after a thorough review of all the circumstances and facts, to approve or deny the request (Klein, 2006).
Encompassing both positive and negative features, sentence bargaining has the propensity to be seen as controversial (Smith, 1987). For instance, a defendant who is indicted for a capital offense, with the possibility of a death sentence, accepts a plea bargain that lessens their penalty to life in prison with the opportunity for parole (Scheidegger, 2009). This resulting plea can be interpreted by many as morally corrupt and a miscarriage of the judicial system to the victims and a reward to the criminal for simply acknowledging their guilt. Notwithstanding its adverse characteristic, sentence bargaining is an exceedingly significant portion of the system (Covey, 2013). This method of bargaining is advantageous in cases where the prosecution does not have a solid case to assure a conviction, or in the absence of sufficient evidence to meet the requirements for a death penalty case. The supporting argument is the use of sentence bargaining in capital cases guarantees the conviction and punishment of the defendant.
A suspect facing multiple charges could be offered an agreement designated as count bargaining. Particularly, a proposal is prepared to decrease the quantity of charges, customarily by dismissal if the offender agrees to plead guilty to the reduced charges. For example, an arrestee, indicted for several counts of possession of a controlled substance, is presented with a reduction to just one count in exchange for pleading guilty. This choice of bargaining results in a deceptive criminal history accompanied by a greatly abbreviated penalty (Bushway & Redlich, 2012). Count bargaining’s solitary benefit is its simplification of the case presented to the court.
This controversial topic embraces effective arguments by both of those who support and those who oppose the usage of plea bargaining (McConville, 1998). There are several urgings in...