In recent time, parties involved in a criminal case opt to resolve their concerns out of court by reaching a mutual agreement.Resolving cases out of the court is ideal. Besides speeding up justice it also allows criminal defendants avoid the likelihood of being convicted on a more advanced charge later on. The process of arriving at a mutual agreement among the aggrieved parties is popularly referred to as a negotiated plea or plea bargaining.
Plea bargaining is widely embraced in various jurisdictions legal system. They include Canada, India, England and Wales, Pakistan and the United States Justice system. For instance, in a criminal case, a defendant convicted with a theft charge felony and which attracts an imprisonment, may be offered a chance to plead guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge. This charge may not attract custodial sentence.
Plea bargain is widely used because of the advantages it provides. One of the benefits associated with plea bargain is that it allows a criminal convict get out of jail. Some criminal convicts cannot afford bail demanded by the legal system or do not have a right to it because of the nature of their offense, hence plea bargain solves this predicament. Ross (2006) asserts that depending on the nature of the case, a convict may be granted probation to do a community service or released without conditions.
Also, a matter is resolved more quickly with plea bargain. This aspect is critical in dispensing justice. For instance, a person charged with a crime while on vacation may opt for plea bargain so as to be back home much sooner (Avishalom, Gazal-Ayal & Garcia, 2010). Similarly, a working person charged with a minor offense may opt to resolve his/her case in a one court appearance than having an option of missing work repeatedly.
Plea bargain allows a person to have fewer offenses in his/her record. According to Ross (2006), contesting for a lesser number of charges is better on a person’s record than having numerous convictions under his/her name.
Though plea bargain is beneficial, it harbors some problems. One of the problems linked to plea bargain is the power of the prosecutor. According to Schulhofer (1992), a prosecutor wields power in terms of presenting the accused with unconscionable strain. The prosecutor has the leeway of maximizing on the defendants by using incentives thus, making him/her plead guilty even on a weak case.
Also, the likelihood of innocence being lost is high. For example, a person who is innocence may forfeit this right because he/she will be compelled to take a guilty plea. A person does this for fear of being found guilty by a judge in a real trial.
Moreover, plea bargain has resulted in "shotty” investigation by law enforcement officers. Shotty investigations have contributed to victims being denied the right of innocence (Schulhofer, 1992). Moreover, a poor investigation has emboldened the prosecutors into assuming that after all, a plea will be negotiated anyway.
In my opinion, I stand against plea bargain. Plea bargain undermine the criminal legal system when a criminal get off the hook easily as a result of their crime. It undermines the rights of the victim because the victim has been wronged and no justice has been dispensed the right way. An offender has to undergo the due process of trial so as to pay for the crime committed. If this is not done, then, the justice system is telling the public that anyone can commit a crime and held responsible for a minor crime.
Consequently, plea bargain undermines the law. In this case, it asserts the justice system principles in way of the guilty and instills fear in the hearts of the victims. Thus, criminals are receiving outrageous sentences because of the underfunding of most judicial systems.
Avishalom, T., Gazal-Ayal, O., Garcia, S. M. (2010). Fairness and the Willingness to Accept Plea Bargain Offers. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 7 (1): 97–116
Ross. J.E (2006). The Entrenched Position of Plea Bargaining in United States Legal Practice. The American Journal of Comparative Law, 54(5) 717–732
Schulhofer, S. J. (1992). Plea Bargaining as Disaster. The Yale Law Journal, 101 (8): 1979– 2009