Plea bargaining is used in hearing a criminal case to avoid a lengthy trial, where the prosecutor and the defendant would make an agreement by themselves, instead of taking the trial to a jury, often including things like pleading guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence or pleading to a lesser charge. Though it is commonly practiced in the US and in other countries, it is not without some criticism, like any other way of litigation. To get a good idea whether it is good for society or not, let us take a look at its main pros and cons.
List of Pros of Plea Bargaining
1. It breathes more air into the trial schedules.
For judges, one huge advantage they can get from plea bargaining is that they can avoid the need to schedule and hold trials on dockets that are already overcrowded. Also considering the overcrowding in jails, they would be receptive to process out offenders who would not do much jail time anyway, closing cases much quicker.
2. It can take away uncertainty of a case.
From the perspective of the criminal defense, the most useful benefit it can get from this type of agreement is being able to remove a trial’s uncertainty. It can help the party with making sure they will not be given more serious charges for the criminal act that is filed against its client.
3. It is highly possible to find the accused guilty.
During situations where the prosecution is weak or the court is seeking for appropriate evidence or reliable witnesses, and the outcome is likely acquittal, it would still be possible that the prosecution will find the accused guilty.
List of Cons of Plea Bargaining
1. It can cause poor investigations and case preparation.
Some attorneys and judges had been debating that plea bargaining has encouraged attorneys not to take the time to properly prepare their cases and for the police not to conduct proper investigations. It is believed that, instead of pursuing justice, the parties would rely on making an agreement, making less important the details of what really happened and the legal consequences.
2. It is seen as unconstitutional.
Some people believe that this legal practice is unconstitutional, as it eliminates the defense’s right to a trial by jury. This argument can even have a considerable weight if the defendant is coerced into such an agreement. But if such a right is upheld, then this procedure remains constitutional.
3. It can promote bias to the prosecution party.
Plea bargaining agreements might allow the prosecution party to take full advantage of accepting a criminal act in the weakest of trials. Also, the more beneficial a guilty claim will be for the prosecutors if the trials end in acquittal.
Plea bargaining can certainly offer benefits for defendants and for the society, but it is always important that both the defense and prosecution parties should carefully weigh their options before they reach a plea bargaining agreement. Based on the pros and cons listed above, what is your stand on this subject?