Why the Plea Bargain Process Should Be Changed?

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Introduction

The plea bargain is the process where the court, represented by the prosecutor arrives to an agreement with the defendant. It is a means of stopping a respondent from competing or from being found guilty of charges against him at no expense to the trial. In return to the plea, prosecutors may usually agree to minimize charges, suggest lower sentence lengths, or reach some other agreement. Plea bargaining should be changed as it promotes violence and demeans both defendants and society. Altering these deals will restore confidence for the judicial system, which now encourages people to believe that criminals could go unpunished through plea bargains.

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Promotes Violence and Degrades both Defendants and Society

Plea Bargain promotes violence and demeans both defendants and society, it also destabilizes deterrence and reference for law. This is because It seeks to defraud guilty pleas when operating to the benefit of prosecutors, suspects, and defense attorneys who wish to escape trial. The Supreme Court of the United States has admitted there will be no plea bargaining in the current world (Viano, 2020) In certain cases, a plea deal allows for a lesser punishment for anyone, even though they may be guilty. Some may claim that a guilty plea and a guaranteed punishment are not the same as having been proven guilty and a correct sentence imposed. But many feel that the process favors the offenders over the society, which in most cases happens to be the victim of the crimes committed. The community is left deceived as the offenders are given lesser charges for the crimes they committed. Some even go unpunished, and because of this, they come out of jail more hardened and continue to harass and commit more crime thus causing more harm than before.

On the other hand, plea bargain may have a long-term effect on the offender if it results in an outcome that would be impossible to be erased from the criminal records. Also, the offender risks serving a substantial prison time if they are found guilty of violating the probation process. Even so, the suspect and the prosecutor negotiate a settlement in which, the accused pleads guilty to any or all of the accusations against them in return for assurances from the prosecutor. In this case, the respondent waives several of their rights under the constitution. Among them is the freedom to self-incrimination, the freedom to plead “not guilty,” the obligation to support witnesses, the opportunity to testify or not at an individual’s trial (Mordi, 2018). The defendant, therefore, relieves the court from proving him or her guilty of the proposed offense. The plaintiff relinquishes his or her freedom to challenge the verdict or appeal that case based on having violated such privileges by admitting guilt. This in itself is a violation of one’s rights to defend themselves.

Another drawback is that, though the plea deal serves as a negotiating tool for both the offender and the prosecution in return for a certain guilty conviction, the plaintiff can clout the prosecutor for what seems like a less serious penalty. At the same time, a jury trial can absolve the accused. The prosecutor has far greater power over the guilty plea conditions in most state and federal systems than either the Defense Attorney or the presiding judge. Consequently, plea bargaining offers the defendant what might theoretically be a less serious sentence than if the trial had gone to court, thus robbing the society of many rights guaranteed by not handing out the appropriate charges. All these tend to either undermine the rights of the accused or assist the offenders to escape justice.

Some critics argue for instance that, plea bargaining helps resolve many court cases, which would have resulted in the trial, and that they are saving the justice system an enormous amount of trial, work, and time (Viano, 2020). But in reality, the deals have become a concern in the United States since they benefit all but the poor defendant and the society at large. For instance, the opportunity costs of going to jail and completing prison terms weigh more heavily on the disadvantaged individuals because they cannot afford to spend time on any of them. They are more ready to embrace sub-optimal pleas due to poor advice from the overworked criminal defense system. Lack of funding, inadequate staffing, and insufficient time to review cases all produce a legal aid system that offers sub-optimal legal counsel to those in need. The vulnerable are particularly in dire need of public defenders.

Going to court, serving a prison sentence, and hiring an attorney for a plea bargain inflict bigger costs on the poor than on the wealthy and powerful. Un-informed and underprivileged persons are highly expected to be frightened at the time of pleading guilty. This is because the prosecutor with all his or her aptitude might threaten to charge the defendant with a more serious crime. This evokes fear in these poor people, thus forcing them to take the bargain. For Plea bargaining, therefore, it methodically shifts the judicial process from crime to punishment and evidentially distorts the justice system against the weakest people in society. To resolve the issues raised by the negotiation, the Department of Justice should standardize the procedure, so that it does not unreasonably negatively affect the unfortunate and the uneducated (Mordi, 2018). Prosecutors must be expected to display a ground-breaking allegation before actually entering into a plea bargain, which, prohibiting the emergence of new and relevant evidence, would not allow the defendant to be charged with a more serious crime.

Plea Bargaining Benefits Prosecutors

Plea bargaining often only benefits prosecutors and forces offenders to accept pleas as they are threatened by more severe charges, which severely hurts the deprived, and profits the prosecutor and the courts. The deals destabilize deterrence and reverence for the law. It seeks to defraud guilty pleas when operating to the value of prosecutors, suspects, and defense attorneys who wish to escape trial (Schwartzbach, 2020). Additionally, it is needless, as shown by the observation of several states. Alaska, Ventura County, Calif, Oakland County, Mich, and New Orleans have discovered that plea bargaining is an unsuccessful process that should then be eliminated.

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Many defendants tend to succumb to the pressure and threats directed to them, and because of fear of receiving harsher punishment they decide to accept the bargain. This is a direct violation of one’s rights because offenders are coerced into admitting to the charges without due process being followed. Since taking a plea deal does not require any penalty, the Supreme Court has permitted penalties for using certain legal rights. The system severely hurts the underprivileged because of poor information on what more serious offenses they could prosecute for. In the United States, every citizen has a guaranteed right to have a jury trial. Providing a plea deal to escape this trial could appear to be a coercive effort to forfeit certain rights. Pressing the defendant to sign a plea bargain may be considered unethical.

The defendant should still have the right to bring his or her case to trial for plea to be an efficient tool. Since 90 % of cases in many jurisdictions go for appeals rather than trial, there is also an argument that this principle contributes to lackluster investigation procedures (Sekhri, 2017). Attorneys and law enforcement officers cannot spend time planning a case because they expect it to plead. Instead of seeking to secure justice, the aim is to make a bargain, and it could be claimed that it is not justice to demand a deal. The prosecutor and the offender may consent to a plea deal, but the judge may terminate the arrangement (Sekhri, 2017). This is a fraud on the part of the judiciary, as they tend take shortcuts and avoid doing proper work on the cases. Another drawback is that; a judge is not normally allowed to enter into a plea deal. They will impose harsher punishments or decide no sentencing should be enforced. A judge can also order a case to be taken to trial if they believe a plea bargain is being negotiated in poor faith. All these seem to go against promotion of justice.

There is No Justice in Demanding Deals

There is no justice in challenging deals, and judges may terminate arrangements whenever they feel like it. The bargain deals are usually treated as escape paths for prosecutors and the genuinely innocent may accept the deals out of pressure and fear. It is assumed that bargaining deals promote laziness and abuse of due process as it allows the court to pass judgement without working on the case. The most controversial part of plea deals is when the accused is genuinely innocent of any wrongdoing but feels under pressure to take a safer course and escape the possibility of prosecution. This is an unfair situation, and it must be addressed with a lawyer in advance.

Many suspects plead “no contest” as a means of taking a plea deal without admitting guilt. In the end, it is a decision which one has to make by themselves. These negotiating deals can get offenders out of the streets, but they may also put innocent people in jail. It opens up the case schedule, but it alters the efficiency of the criminal justice system. There should be potential ways of enhancing the plea bargaining system so that the vulnerable are not unduly affected. Nevertheless, to select a specific solution, the justice system’s pressure should be reduced while also upholding the plight of the disadvantaged and uneducated. Banning these court negotiations in totality and offering the accused an attorney would resolve most of these problems which pleading guilty presents. If there were no plea bargaining, all cases would be taken to trial, and the issues would be settled by a fair hearing which would give both the respondent and the prosecutor to defend and argue their case respectively.

Critics argue that, with more than 90 % of cases settled annually through plea bargaining, the criminal justice system will not be able to work with such a significant volume of new cases (Viano, 2020). Nonetheless, making sure that all defendants had public attorneys during the guilty plea would make the plaintiff and lawyer equally informed about the plea negotiation process. This would control the prosecutor from benefiting from imposing more serious charges during the plea deal. It would also ease the legal services system from handling extensive plea bargaining cases, even non-criminal ones. Supplying more public defenders is a valuable long-term solution to plea bargaining, which will need much inflow of fresh human resources to fix the problem at present (Viano, 2020). While removing plea bargaining and dramatically improving public defense could ease plea bargaining problems, both will involve much effort to reform the system. A viable solution to address many plea bargaining issues would be to impose a nominal fee before plea bargaining. With a threshold charge, excluding the finding of additional evidence, prosecutors will be forbidden from charging the defendant with a more serious offense until the plea bargaining begins.

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The whole system would completely negate a major reason why people embrace sub-optimal or erroneous guilty pleas: the potential to be treated more harshly if they resist. A threshold fee will entail a formal start to the plea agreement process, which it does not presently have. The extension of pre-trial freedom to plea bargaining is also a viable way of solving many plea bargaining challenges (Viano, 2020). Currently, when one signs a plea of guilty, all pre-trial rights, including the right to appeal an illegally obtained confession, are revoked. During plea deals, pre-trial protection should be applied to defendants to guarantee that they are in the most favorable negotiating position. It is necessary to disclose exculpatory evidence during any plea deal. In November 2015, the Supreme Court of West Virginia declared that prosecutors had to disclose all incriminating evidence in a plea deal (Sekhri, 2017). Such a requirement has been extended to court cases for more than 40 years.

The decision should be followed to allow the defendant to gain the most favorable negotiation position. Criminal justice reform campaigns are the main partner in negotiating reforms. Those seeking a plea bargaining overhaul should define it as a further move towards reforming America’s criminal justice system. Another reason for changing the bargain deals is that the process has attracted massive national attention. The President should therefore order the judiciary and other relevant bodies to pursue this policy proposal as a way of preserving legal protection against self-incrimination and reducing the burden on the bloated correctional system. However, the present political environment for the reform of the justice system should provide the President with the direction required to settle the plea agreements. There should be simple solutions to many of the plea bargaining issues which do not require a full reform of the criminal justice system. Hope has to remain for these potential conflicts of interest.

Conclusion

In conclusion, plea bargaining is perceived by the wider populace as pro-injustice since punishment is deemed not to be due to the severity of the offense but to the perpetrator’s capacity to negotiate and obtain a lighter penalty with the prosecutor. The plea deal process seems to lack a clear and effective procedure or mechanism of operation. Because of the many loopholes found in the system, the process is manipulated to benefit only the rich while oppressing the poor. Individual rights are one of the most important human beings’ requirements to guarantee their well-being. In most cases, plea bargaining has been accused of violating these rights instead of preserving them. Therefore, it is only fair for the judicial system and any other relevant bodies to act in good faith and abolish or change them.

References

Mordi, C. (2018). The use of plea bargain in Nigerian criminal law. Beijing Law Review, 9(02), 153-161. Web.

Schwartzbach, M. (2020). What Are the Different Kinds of Plea Bargaining? NOLO. Web.

Sekhri, A. (2017). Plea bargaining’s Resounding defeat? The Indian experiment with plea bargaining. SSRN Electronic Journal. Web.

Viano, E. (2020). Plea bargaining in the United States: A perversion of justice. Cairn.Info. Web.

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