Plea Bargains : Criminal Justice System

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In the United States today, plea bargains are the way in which the majority of the criminal court cases get resolved. “Plea bargains are extraordinarily common in the American legal system, accounting for roughly 90% of all criminal cases. Many countries, however, do not allow plea bargains, considering them unethical or immoral” (“Plea Bargains: In Depth”). A plea bargain is an agreement that is made in a criminal case between the prosecutor and the defendant; normally, the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence than he or she could have received if convicted on the charges at trial. Plea bargaining is often justified by reasons such as the overabundance of cases in the United States criminal justice system, overworked prosecutors, and the cost of a trial. Thus, plea bargains benefit the criminal justice system and the defendant, however, they may not always be in the best interest of the victim or society at large. In addition, plea bargains may entice some innocent defendants to accept a deal for fear of the potential of receiving a harsher sentence at trial. This presents an ethical dilemma for those in the American criminal justice system as to whether plea bargains should be used. Throughout this essay, I will examine the ethical issues presented by plea deals in the article “The Innocent Defendant’s Dilemma: As Innovative Empirical Study of Plea Bargaining’s Innocence Problem” which appeared in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (Dervan
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