Week 1 Assignment – Plea Bargaining Sarah Lee Westwood College – South Bay CRJS121 – Corrections Dalia Fragoso August 19, 2013
The right to a trial by jury was considered a central part of the justice system in the early days of the United States. The Seventh Amendment of the Bill of Rights codified it as an essential part of Americans' civil liberties. When criminals were caught and charged, the government went through a trial and verdict. But in the 1800s, a trend toward plea-bargaining began. In Alameda County, from 1880 to 1910, nearly 10 percent of all defendants changed their "not guilty" pleas to "guilty of lesser charges" or pled guilty to reduced ...view middle of the document...
Charge bargaining is a method where prosecutors agree to drop some charges or reduce a charge to a less serious offense in exchange for a plea by the defendant (Thompson, 2006).
A no contest or nolo contendere plea in essence says to the court, “I choose to not contest the charges against me.” This type of plea, often part of a plea bargain, results in a criminal conviction just like a guilty plea. And a no contest plea will show up on a criminal record. However, if the victim sues the defendant in civil court, the no contest plea cannot be used as evidence against the defendant as an admission of guilt. A guilty plea, on the other hand, does serve as an admission of guilt and can be introduced in civil cases as evidence against the defendant.
In 1982, California voters passed Proposition 8. It banned plea bargaining when the information or the indictment charges a serious felony, certain violent sex crimes, any felony in which the defendant used a gun, or any offense of driving while under the influence (California Penal Code (PC) Section 1192.7(c)). The law had only three exceptions--bargaining could be done when there is insufficient evidence to prove the people's case; testimony of a material witness cannot be obtained, or a reduction or dismissal would not result in a substantial change in sentence (Cal. Const. art. I, § 28(d)).
But cases continued to be negotiated and pled, even when the exceptions didn't apply. The law...