Plea pleads innocent and then goes through

Plea Bargaining:
The most common arguement offered on behalf of plea bargaining is that it
lifts the
burden of heavy caseloads from the shoulders of the courts. By ensuring that
most criminal
defendants enter a plea of guilty, plea bargaining eliminates the need for
time-consuming trial
procedures
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Category:
Law
Paper Title:
Plea Bargaining
Text:
The most common arguement offered on behalf of plea bargaining is that it
lifts the
burden of heavy caseloads from the shoulders of the courts. By ensuring that
most criminal
defendants enter a plea of guilty, plea bargaining eliminates the need for
time-consuming trial
procedures. Harold J. Rothwax, a Manhattan judge said, “We go to plea
bargaining out of
necessity, not out of desire. It is inescapable.” Criminal defendants
charged with felonies could
completely overcome the court system if they coordinated their efforts.

“If even half of the 90%
of the defendants who now plead guilty should request trial, the judicial
system would break
down from overload”, said B.J. George Jr. Although society would
certainly respond to a
substantially overburdened court system by allotting more resources to it,
such s responce would
likely be slow.

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Proponents of plea bargaining argue that it allows the accused to have a
greater degree of
autonomy over the results of their cases. Unlike a system without a plea
bargaining, in which a
defendant either pleads guilty without meeting with the prosecutor or pleads
innocent and then
goes through the trial process, plea bargaining allows the defendant the
intermediate option of
pleading guilty to avoid a harsh penalty. This arguement sees plea bargaining
as an extra check
in the criminal justice system to ensure that the autonomy and liberty of the
accused is respected
by the state. Plea bargaining also protects innocent defendants from the
possibility of harsh
sanctions. Unfortunate innocent defendants who realize that the case them
against them is too
overwhelming to gain leniency from the judge or to win acquittal from a jury
may view plea
bargaining as an attractive alternative to trial. Without plea bargaining,
many of these innocent
defendants would be found guilty and sentenced. Of course, plea bargaining
does not violate
one’s right to trial, as defendants always have the option to plead not
guilty and be tried by a
jury. Proponents of plea bargaining point out that prosecutors do not force
anyone to plea
bargain.

Although plea bargaining is not perfect, the pressures placed on the court
system make it
the best way to promote justice. Critics of the practice tend to focus only
on the relatively
insignificant number of cases where plea bargaining results in injustice.

When evaluating the
effectiveness of plea bargaining in promoting justice, it is important to
focus equally on its
strengths. In most cases, plea bargaining is a fair and efficient way to deal
with cases. Most
guilty defendants will be convicted with or without plea bargaining, and most
innocent
defendants will be acquitted. Therefore, plea bargaining is usually an
acceptable and more
efficient alternative to trial. One important positive effect that plea
bargaining has on the
criminal justice system is that it preserves the seriousness of the innocent
plea. With plea
bargaining, innocent pleas are few and far between, making the judge and
attorneys more
attentive during trials. Without plea bargaining, guilty defendants have less
of an incentive to
plead guilty and more of an incentive to go to trial. With more trials to
attend to, and with most
defendants being ultimately found guilty, the cases of the few innocent
defendants who need
trials the most might not recieve the proper amount of attention from judges
or attorneys.

The efficiency excuse can only be used by the most overburdened courts.

Prosecutors
working in rural areas with relatively low caseloads use plea bargaining just
as prosecutors who
work in major cities. Additionally, plea bargaining was used decades ago,
when courts in general
were not as overburdened as they are today. These observations, according to
opponents of plea
bargaining, suggest that necessity is not the only explanation for the
widespread use of the
practice. An alternative explanation not cited by plea bargaining proponents
is that the practice
lifts burdens not only from the courts, but from the shoulders of the judges
and attorneys who
work within them. Attorneys and judges realize that the trials require
significantly more personal
effort and time than plea bargaining. When the court has heard all of the
cases on the docket, the
judge and public attorneys are free to spend their time outside of the
courtroom. Thus, the
incentives for public attorneys and judges to use plea bargaining are often
personal. In light of
this observation, the often cited efficiency excuse does not seem valid. As
one scholar wisely
observed, “regardless of the caseload, there will always be too many
cases for many of the
participants in the system, since most of them have a strong interest in
being some place other
than court.


Plea bargaining presents a substantial threat to the liberties of the
accused, especially
those who are innocent. Prosecutors bargain with the harshest sentence that
they think the
defendant will accept in exchange for a guilty plea. Indeed, because judges
tend to sentence
convicted defendants who plead innocent with much harsher penalties than
defendants who
plead guilty. Defendants who are clearly guilty would probably be better off
pleading guilty
even without a plea bargain. On the other hand, a prosecutor will offer more
substantial
concessions to innocent defendants who would have relatively high chances of
acquittal if their
cases were to go to trial. Thus, plea bargaining allows the prosecutor to
ensure that innocent
defendants will be just as likely as guilty defendants to plead guilty to
some charge.

Plea bargaining violates many basic principles upon which our criminal
justice system
rests. One of these principles is that it is better to let ten guilty persons
go free than it is to
convict one innocent person. Plea bargaining attempts to ensure that everyone
is convicted,
albeit with a lighter sentence than if he or she had been found guilty in
trial. For the innocent,
conviction is clearly an injustice, but the injustice of convicting the
criminal through plea
bargaining is often overlooked. By ensuring that criminals recieve lighter
sanctions, plea
bargaining represents an injustice to society. If the criminal justice system
is viewed as a system
with the end of protecting citizens, plea bargaining and its leniency toward
guilty defendants
threatens to undermine the system by depriving it of the ability to deter
crime and reform the
offenders. While the doctrine of letting ten innocent defendants go free is
not written in the
Constitution, the doctrine that no person “shall be compelled in any
criminal case to be a witness
against himself” is This Fifth Amendment right is violated by plea
bargaining, in which the
guilty plea, in light of the possibility of more lenient sanctions, is
compelling. If one
incriminates oneself by pleading guilty, the plea bargain violates the Fifth
Amendment.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court made an exception for plea bargaining in
North Carolina v.

Alford, in which it held that Alford, who would have pled innocent to murder
had in not been for
plea bargaining, was bound to his plea bargain. Alford’s testimony reveals
that he was indeed
compelled to plead guilty, thus incriminating himself: “I pleaded guilty
on second degree murder
because they said there is too much evidence, but I ain’t shot no man, but I
take the fault for the
other man. We never had an arguement in our life and I just pleaded guilty
because they said if I
didn’t they would gas me for it, and that is all.” Finally, plea
bargaining violates the principle
that guilt or innocence should only be determined by those deemed fit to do
so. In our society,
only judges and fairly selected juries enjoy that status.Plea bargaining
takes already difficult
decisions out of the hands of qualified and socially sanctioned individuals
and places them in the
hands of attorneys, who are then subjected to “serious financial and
other temptations to
disregard their clients interests”, said A.W. Alschuler. Moreover, by
making attorneys view
themselves as “judges and administrators rather than as advocates”,
plea bargaining transforms
real judges into ineffective figureheads who cannot fulfill the role expected
of them by those
who appointed them.


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