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Plea Bargaining - A Flaw in the Criminal Justice System in the United States - Essay Example

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Date Plea Bargaining - A Flaw in the Criminal Justice System in the United States Introduction It is agreeable that the criminal justice system plays a very critical role in ensuring that the rule of law is observed and helps in imposing penalties to those who violate laws…
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Plea Bargaining - A Flaw in the Criminal Justice System in the United States
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Download file to see previous pages This paper will discuss plea bargaining as a flaw in the criminal justice system. Plea bargaining is defined as a process whereby a defendant in a criminal case and the prosecutor reach a conclusion (which is mutually satisfactory) to end the criminal case at hand, subject to approval by the court. Successful plea bargaining lead to a plea agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor, where the former agrees to be plead guilty to the offence without a trial (Robert and Stuntz 24). In return, the prosecutor consents to make favorable recommendations to the court or dismiss specific charges regarding the case. However, plea bargaining is considered as a flaw in the criminal justice system. Its critics argue that it is a shortcut to justice, and therefore the due process of the law may not be followed fully. Besides, it is considered as a flaw in the criminal justice system because it is deemed to be unfair to criminal defendants. This is because the prosecutors tend to have so much power in deciding the charges that a defendant may face (Hessick and Saujani 197). Also, since the prosecutors are evaluated to a greater extent on their rates of conviction, plea bargaining may force them to try at all costs to win the case. conversely, plea bargaining is a flaw in the criminal justice system because it is likely to soften punishment’s deterrent effect a s the defendant has an opportunity to bargain for lesser punishments (Hessick, Andrew and Saujani 81-82). Origin and Impact of Plea Bargaining Plea bargaining is a critical part of the United States’ criminal justice system; actually, majority of the criminal cases in America are settled using this means instead by jury trial. Plea bargaining traces its origin to the case of Brady v. United States in 1970 when the defendant (Robert Brady) tried to alter his plea after he had agreed to plead guilty to kidnapping for a lesser sentence (Fisher 44). Brady’s move was motivated by the desire to avoid death penalty. However, upon hearing the case, the Supreme Court ruled that his plea was legitimate because had an option of refusing the offer by the prosecutor. Subsequent case also showed that the Supreme Court approved the legality of plea bargaining. In the case of Santobello v New York in 1971, the legality of plea bargaining was challenged when the prosecutor was accused by the defendant of breaching their plea agreement by recommending a punishment that was harsher than the one they had agreed upon. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the defendant; it argued that legal validity of plea bargaining to be achieved, the defendant and the prosecutor should adhere to the plea agreement’s terms. This case set a precedent that each plea bargaining must be approved by the court for it to be legally valid. Since then it has been entrenched in America’s criminal justice system (Bibas 2471). However, several studies have shown that it affects criminal justice system by giving the prosecutor more discretion that may lead to unfairness on the part of the defendant and by granting the defendant lesser punishment. The following cases bring the flaw mentioned above: Bordenkircher v. Hayes where the court approved unfair handling of the case by the prosecutor; and in Marshall v. Barlow’s Inc where the defendant was granted lesser punishment despite the gravity ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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