15 Advantages and Disadvantages of Plea Bargaining

A plea bargain is when prosecutions and defense lawyers come to an agreement on a certain case and defendant. The defendant agrees to plea guilty to a charge in order to avoid a court trial. People may be surprised at how commonly this legal technique is used to close cases, but should it be? Who is this really benefiting in the long run?

Advantages Of Plea Bargains

1. No Uncertainty
Plea bargains take away the stress and questions that surround a trial by jury. The anxiety that is involved with not knowing if you will be found guilty or not is completely removed.

2. Court Congestion
Cases are closed much quicker when pleas are involved. This is great for society because it de-clogs the court systems for more serious cases.

3. Leniency
The person who has taken the plea, often pleads guilty to a lesser charge than what they would have normally been tried for. This ultimately translates into a lesser sentence or punishment.

4. Guaranteed Win
From a prosecutor’s point of view, plea bargains are a God send. They allow them to have an open and shut case, that still always results in a prosecution.

5. It Can’t Get Worse
When a person takes a plea bargain, they no longer have to go through trial. This means that other crimes that may have been committed and any damning evidence will not be discovered.

6. No Maximum Sentence
The biggest reason that many people take a plea bargain is the fact that you cannot receive the maximum sentencing for you crime.

7. Aids Other Cases
Prosecutors will often roll other conditions into their plea agreement. Often it is that the defendant will testify against a co defendant, which may aid larger cases in a prosecution.

8. Let’s The Justice System Breathe
If all criminal cases actually made it to a trial by jury, then the justice system would not be able to sustain itself. Courts would be backed up by months, if not years.

Disadvantages Of Plea Bargains

1. Innocence Lost
Innocent people will often take a guilty plea bargain. This is done out of fear of being found guilty by a jury in a trial.

2. No Justice
The victims, people affected by the crime, or the general public may be very angered by a plea bargain. Especially if they fee the crime deserves to be punished with the full extent of the law.

3. High Pressure Situation
Defendants are often pressured into taking a plea bargain because it is simply easier for everyone involved. Even if they do not really want to admit guilt.

4. Poor Work All Around
Plea bargains have caused quite a large amount of “shotty” investigations to occur. Investigators and prosecutions begin to slack, thinking a plea will be reached anyway.

5. Forced Guilt
The biggest disadvantage of a plea bargain is that you have to admit that you are guilty, even if you are not. This can cause turmoil for a very long time in someones life.

6. Unconstitutional
The constitution states that every American citizen has the right to a trial by jury. Many people argue that plea bargains are unconstitutional because of this.

7. Leniency
This is listed as both a pro and a con. It completely depends on which side of the case you are on. If you are a victim, or a victim’s family member then a lean punishment may be very painful to take.

Important Facts About Plea Bargains

  • 90% Of all criminal prosecutions are reached through plea bargains.
  • Not all cases can be bargained down.
  • The actual sentencing is completely up to the judge, not the lawyers.

  • Everyone who chooses a plea bargain is given multiple opportunities to choose a trial.

  • There are many different types of plea bargains. These include charge bargaining, sentence bargaining, fact bargaining, and count bargaining.
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