Sample Criminal Justice Paper on Plea Bargaining

Plea Bargaining

Plea bargaining is the negotiation between a prosecutor and a defense lawyer to on how to address the issue of criminal charges. It normally occurs when a perpetrator pleads guilty in return for a stated sentence, an agreement not to ask for more than a specified sentence or a dropped charge. A plea bargain normally has the apparent advantage of certainty and minimization of risk. The perpetrator avoids the risk that a full trial may expose the possible evidences that could even be more damning, and the judge may find the defendant guilty.

Plea bargaining is a fundamental aspect in restructuring the defendant by accepting that they are guilty and willingly submitting themselves before the court and as a result reducing the time and expenses of the trial. If in case the prosecution is frail, or the court asks for proper evidences and witnesses and the result is acquittal, the prosecution may have the probability of finding the defendant guilty (Scharf, 2004).

Advantages of plea bargaining

To the defendant perspective, the most important advantage of plea bargaining is that it takes away the uncertainty of a criminal trial and prevents the maximum sentences.

To the public, the agreements usually reduce court congestion and free up the prosecutors, and thus they are able to address more cases (Scharf, 2004).

From the prosecutor’s perspective, a resolved case normally clears the trial calendar, giving room for new cases. It also eliminates the risk that the defense may persuade the judge to acquit the defendant. Resolved cases usually results in contented judges too since it lessens their case loads (Bibas, 2004).

Disadvantages of plea bargaining

The key disadvantage of plea bargaining is that it normally affects the blameless defendants who normally decides to plead guilty to a slighter charge for the purpose of avoiding the risk that he or she may be declared guilty at trial. In addition, there are attorneys and jury who claim that plea bargaining has result in poor investigations by the law enforcers and lawyers who do not take time to appropriately organize their cases. They trust that, rather than ensuring fairness, the parties count on making a deal and that the aspects of what took place and the lawful penalties for the actions are less significant (Guidorizzi, 1998).

Some advocates and judges also dispute that plea bargaining is unlawful for the reason that it does not consider a perpetrator’s constitutional right to a trial by an adjudicator. If the perpetrator is forced or compelled into a plea bargain agreement, then such a dispute may have weight. However, if the perpetrator, throughout the criminal case holds onto the right to a fair and full trial by the judge without being forced to make an agreement the magistrates has come to an agreement that plea bargaining is unlawful (Guidorizzi, 1998).

Not all cases can be bargained down. In some cases, where the law provides for an obligatory short sentence, the prosecutor normally does not agree to a reduced sentence. For instance, laws that concerns drunk drivers, usually stipulate that, increased penalties is necessary for offenders that repeat their actions. In such cases, the prosecuting attorney may be able to minimize the charges. However, without minimizing the charges, the prosecuting attorney would not be able to promise a slighter sentence that the minimum stipulated for the original sentence (Bibas, 2004).



Bibas, S. (2004). “Plea bargaining outside the shadow of trial.” Harvard Law Review, 2463-2547.

Guidorizzi, D. D. (1998). “Should we really ban plea bargaining: the core concerns of plea bargaining critics.” Emory Lj, 47, 753.

Scharf, M. P. (2004). “Trading Justice for efficiency plea bargaining and international tribunals.” Journal of international criminal justice, 2(4), 1070-1081.