Plea bargains play a major role in the criminal justice system. The use of plea bargains has become quite controversial with valid points argued by those who support and those who oppose their use. Before making a decision to agree or disagree, one must compare the arguments regarding the use of plea bargains as well as understand the purpose of the plea bargain, types of plea bargains, and the positive and negative aspects of each type of plea bargain.
Purpose of Plea Bargains
A plea bargain is an arrangement made for a criminal case in which the prosecution proposes a deal to the defendant in exchange for a guilty plea. A plea bargain allows individuals who have been accused of ...view middle of the document...
This category of plea bargaining puts pressure on the defendant to plead guilty, and only offers the hope of possible leniency (Meyer & Grant, 2003).
There are three types of plea bargains available: charge bargaining, sentence bargaining, and count bargaining. All of these plea bargain options offer some type of reduction in the defendants’ sentence. When the defendant and their attorney agree to use charge bargaining, the parties will approach the prosecution or judge with a request for a reduced sentence if the defendant agrees to plead guilty. However, charge bargaining is associated with a significant negative aspect. For example, if the defendant were originally charged with a felony offense, he or she could take a plea bargain that offers a lesser misdemeanor charge (Meyer & Grant, 2003).
Sentence bargaining occurs when the defendant agrees to plead guilty with the condition that the prosecution make a promise to request an alternative or lighter sentence. However, the agreement made between the defendant, and the prosecution is not guaranteed. It is the judges’ decision to approve or deny the plea bargain (Meyer & Grant, 2003). Sentence bargaining has both positive and negative aspects associated with it. For example, a negative aspect of sentence bargaining occurs when a defendant who is charged with a capital offense receives a plea bargain that reduces his or her sentence to life in prison with the chance of receiving parole. This could result in the victim of the defendants’ crime feeling like the system failed because it basically rewarded the defendant for committing a crime just because he or she admitted his or her guilt. Despite the negative aspect, sentence bargaining is a very important part of the system. This type of plea bargain is effective in cases in which the prosecution does not have a strong enough case to guarantee a conviction, or if they lack sufficient evidence for the case to qualify for a death penalty sentence. By using sentence bargaining in these types of cases, the conviction and punishment of the defendant is guaranteed.
When a defendant is faced with multiple charges, the prosecution may offer a plea agreement known as count bargaining. Count bargaining occurs when the prosecution offers to reduce the amount of charges or dismiss the charges if the defendant agrees to plead guilty. For example, an individual is arrested and charged with multiple counts of driving under the influence, but he or she is given the opportunity to have it reduced to one charge if he or she agrees to plead guilty. However, this type of plea bargain has several negative aspects associated with it. Count bargaining allows defendants charged with multiple counts of violent crimes to be rewarded by reducing the amount of charges, results in an incomplete criminal history, and provides a severely reduced punishment. The only positive aspect of count bargaining is that it simplifies the case for...