If you are new to the criminal justice system, there can be many terms and processes that you do not fully understand. This can include aspects such as knowing how bail bonds work, and understanding court processes, such as arraignment. One of the most common features of the justice system is plea bargaining. Around 90% of convictions result from this process, which means that the vast majority of cases never get to court.
The aim of this article is to take a closer look at plea bargaining. We are going to examine the potential pros and cons of a plea bargain for all involved.
Why judges accept plea bargains
The major positive of a plea bargain, as far as a judge is concerned, is that it relieves pressure on an already overstretched court system. Judges are also conscious of the fact that many plea bargains do not involve time in prison, which helps reduce pressure on an overcrowded prison system.
While these are both considerable pros, there is also a significant downside in the fact that many plea bargains are made because less well-off defendants cannot afford to go through a lengthy court process.
Why prosecutors are incentivized by plea bargains
One of the main pros that a prosecutor sees in plea bargaining is that they are able to secure a conviction, even if it’s on a lesser charge than was originally made. This saves them from the time and expense of a lengthy trial which could end with the accused being found not guilty.
Plea bargains can also be used to encourage one defendant to give evidence against another defendant. This can help the prosecutor to get the conviction they really want. The problem with this is that the evidence given is not always that reliable. A defendant may be tempted to say what they think the prosecutor wants to hear, in order to secure a lesser charge.
Why a defendant may decide to plea bargain
Plea bargaining can be an excellent way of a defendant securing a lesser charge. This also means they can reduce the number of serious charges on their record. The other main positive of a plea bargain, for a defendant, is that it saves on the potential costs involved with a lengthy trial.
This can also be a problem with plea bargaining. Many less wealthy people embrace plea bargaining simply to avoid financial hardship; even if they are innocent.
Plea bargaining obviously has a very important place in the justice system. Aside, from anything else, the court system simply could not cope with significantly more cases going to trial. The main downside of the plea bargaining process is that it can lead to innocent people being convicted. This happens because they want to avoid the expense of going to court. If you have been charged with a crime, only you can make the decision about plea bargaining, based on advice from your attorney. You need to decide what the best thing is for you.