A Review of the Literature: Plea Bargaining and Ethics in the Criminal Justice System

1913 Words Dec 15th, 2013 8 Pages
| 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 regarding its use along with the purpose, types, and
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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
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