Plead bargaining refers to the process during which the prosecutor and defendant reach an agreement in a criminal case whereby the defendant is ready to plead guilty to charges for an aim of attaining some benefits from the prosecutor (Fisher, 2003). For instance, the defendants will plead guilty to one of the charges with the aim of experiencing dismissal of the rest of the charges. The defendants may also plead guilty to original criminal charges with an aim of facing a lenient sentence (Cole & Smith, 2008). Therefore, plea bargaining allows both the prosecutor and defendant to reduce the length of the criminal trial, as well as help the criminal defendant to avoid conviction on a serious charge. It has been evident that plea bargaining includes charge bargaining and sentences bargaining, because it may involve dismissal of other charges or making the sentence lenient.
Charge Bargaining and Sentence Bargaining
Charge bargaining refers to a form of plea bargaining that involves negotiations of crimes or charges, which the defendant will encounter at trial (Fisher, 2003). In most cases, the defendant pleads guilty to a less serious criminal offense for the prosecutor to dismiss other charges. For instance, a criminal defendant may plead guilty to manslaughter for the prosecutor to dismiss charges for the first-degree murder. On the other hand, sentence bargaining refers to the plea bargaining during which a criminal defendant pleads guilty to the stated charge with the aim of facing a lighter sentence (Fisher, 2003). Sentence bargaining reduces the length of the criminal trial by avoiding the need of going through trial and proving the case. This also provides the criminal defendants with a chance to face a lighter sentence. Therefore, both charge and sentence bargaining help both the criminal defendant and the prosecutor.
Read also: "Academic Book Review: How to Complete It"
Advantages and Disadvantages of Plea Bargaining
Plea bargaining plea helps the state and court to manage the loads of cases (Mooney & Donovan, 2012). This reduces the prosecutors workload by helping them prepare for the most complex cases by settling a petty and effortless offences through plea bargaining. Another advantage of plea bargaining is that plea bargaining is a factor that reforms the criminal offenders by accepting their responsibilities for the criminal actions and submitting the actions voluntarily before the law without going through a time consuming and expensive trial (Mooney & Donovan, 2012). The sentencing policy requires rewarding of the criminal defendants upon acknowledging their guilt through plea bargaining. In the case of a weak prosecution, if the trial undergoes conclusion for the need of proper evidences or witnesses, the prosecutor will have an opportunity to find the criminal defendant as guilty through cooperation by plea bargaining (Mooney & Donovan, 2012). This will spare the prosecutor of the risk of acquittal. The criminal defendants may face a lesser jail sentence by pleading guilty to misdemeanor criminal offenses. Therefore, plea bargaining will give the defendants a chance to bargain for their own advantage. Plea bargaining may reduce a defendants sentence to probation or monetary fine and do away with imprisonment. Defendants may experience reduced fine upon plea bargaining, which allows the defendants to plead guilty to a misdemeanor crime (Mooney & Donovan, 2012). Similarly, plea bargaining may help the defendants experience reduced charges by pleading guilty to a less serious offense.
Plea bargaining can be problematic for a number of reasons. The prosecutors have the power to present the criminal defendants with outrageous pressure. Innocent defendants may develop fear of undergoing conviction (Mooney & Donovan, 2012). This may make them take a plea bargain to face reduced charges, fines, or jail term. It is unfair for individuals to plead guilty to criminal offenses, which they did not do, only to persuade the prosecutor to dismiss the rest of the charges. When a person takes a plea bargain, it will be automatic that the person is guilty (Mooney & Donovan, 2012). Some judges and attorneys contend that plea bargaining results in inadequate police investigations. Attorneys do not commit themselves to prepare their cases adequately, because they will persuade the defendants to take a plea bargain. Therefore, the attorneys fail to pursue justice by assuming that the legal consequences are not significant. Some judges and attorneys also contend that taking a plea bargain is not constitutional because of taking away the constitutional right of a defendant to a trial (Mooney & Donovan, 2012). It happens when a prosecutor coerces the defendant into taking a plea bargain. Plea bargaining will remain constitutional if the criminal defendant can retain the right to a trial without coercion.
How Plea Bargaining Reflects or Thwarts the Crime Control and Due Process Models of Criminal Justice
Crime control model of criminal justice assumes that arresting and charging individuals with crimes make the individuals guilty, and that individuals should face appropriate punishment for their offenses (Cole & Smith, 2008). According to the crime control model, criminal justice system should control the criminal behaviors effectively. Plea bargaining allows criminal defendants an opportunity to avoid conviction on the most serious charges. For instance, criminal defendants charged with a felonious theft charge may have the chance to plead guilty to an infringement theft charge. Plea bargaining thwarts the crime control model significantly since criminals will commit criminal offenses and plead guilty of less serious charges (Cole & Smith, 2008). The prosecutor dismisses the rest of the criminal offenses that the criminal defendant committed. In some cases, plea bargaining may reduce the sentence to probation. This will keep the criminals within the community, thereby encouraging them to continue committing crimes. A criminal may commit a serious crime, but pay just a fine. Therefore, plea bargaining will encourage individuals to continue committing crimes, because of the opportunity to face reduced charges or sentence (Cole & Smith, 2008). This is evident that plea bargaining thwarts the crime control model of criminal justice.
The due process model of criminal justice system assumes that individuals are innocent, and they should remain free until found guilty (Cole & Smith, 2008). Therefore, the criminal justice system aims at protecting the innocent individuals and convicting the guilty. Plea bargaining thwarts the due process model of the criminal justice system because it fails to support the protection of the innocent and conviction of the guilty. Guilty defendants have an interest in the criminal justices due process protections. On the other hand, innocent defendants and victims, as well as the family members of the victims and the innocent defendants, show an interest in seeing that the criminal justice has recognized the truth (Cole & Smith, 2008). An interest of the society is to see that the guilty have received a just punishment concerning the criminal offenses committed. Plea bargaining does not promote justice, but instead it enhances convenience and expediency of the prosecutors and criminal defendants. Consequently, it makes the life of the defense attorneys and prosecutors more profitable and easier. Plea bargaining promotes avoidance to find out the truth, concerning the innocent, victims, and the guilty (Cole & Smith, 2008).
Plea bargaining provides the criminal defendants with a chance to plead guilty to misdemeanor crimes (Fisher, 2003). This affects the criminal defendants both negatively and positively, depending upon whether the defendants are innocent or not. Prosecutors, judges, and attorneys benefit from plea bargaining at the expense of addressing the criminal offenses with justice. Therefore, plea bargaining has continued to thwart the crime control and due process models of criminal justice (Cole & Smith, 2008).