Introduction to Criminal Justice
Why is the practice of plea bargaining considered to be necessary evil in our society?
Plea bargaining a process that entails negotiating a plea deal between the attorney of the criminal defendant and the prosecuting attorney or the judge. The prosecution or the state normally offers concessions to the defendant in exchange for a guilty plea, which involves reducing the sentence, dismissing some charges or agreeing to certain plea. While the vast majority of criminal prosecutions are currently being solved by plea bargaining.
The most obvious reason for plea bargaining is that it saves time and cost to both parties, the court, and the public. The court dockets continue to be more crowded due to the lack of enough prosecutors and judges to handle criminal cases, which results in time-consuming and costly in conducting the criminal trial. With the plea agreement, the adjudicative process is sped up and the cost of both parties reduces. The defendant in most cases ends up benefiting from the plea agreement if the defendant is guilty of the charged offense and there is the possibility of sufficient evidence that might result in a heavy sentence, hence pleading guilty might result in a lighter sentence. The defendant and his family also avoid the emotional trauma that criminal trial might subject them to. The trials have their uncertainties even when considering the guiltiest defendant, whereby the prosecutors have to prove beyond reasonable doubt (McDonough 385). The plea agreement reduces the burden faced by the prosecutor and offers them an opportunity to ensure prompt and certain use of correctional measures while evading the trial uncertainties. The public also benefits from plea bargaining in terms of the court saving costs and time. The other benefit to the public is that the plea agreement helps immediately removing the potentially dangerous individual from the society through the information provided by the defendant who pleads guilty for the reduction in charges or sentence time. The plea guilty, which results in avoidance of public trial, is also considered to protect the innocent victim against cross-examination and trauma.
What do you consider to be necessary balance between the rights of a criminal defendant and the rights of a victim?
The main purpose of balancing the rights of the criminal defendant and the rights of the victim is to create equality within the legal system that would ensure the victims of a crime feel justifies and the criminal defendants punished according to based on their situation. Factors that are necessary for balancing the rights include the plea negotiation, the police power, and the victims’ role in sentencing (Justia). The police powers are governed by statues that give the power to question and detain subjects, seize evidence and search properties, and to arrest and interrogate suspects. The police powers enable them to consider both the victim and the suspect concerning the crime to obtain enough evidence that can justify the crime or the intention of the crime. However, the power of police to use excessive force where necessary is not clearly defined leading to situations where the police violate the power, hence creating a rift in the balance of the victims’ rights to justification and the fair trial rights of the offenders.
The plea negotiation, provide an opportunity for the defendant to consider the ability to gain a quick trial. Despite the ability of plea agreement offering less costly and time delays, it interferes with the balancing of rights since the plea might end up with the defendant receiving a lesser sentence, the crime might go unpunished or insufficiently punished, which distorts the victim and offender’s rights (Justia). The neglect towards the victim’s rights is likely to occur if the defendant pleads guilty for a crime that committed with enough evidence available to charge the defendant with a longer sentence. Despite the consideration of victims’ ability to avoid higher costs and trauma associated with a criminal trial, the plea agreement indicates a rift in the balance to the justification of the victims’ rights and fair trial rights of the offenders.
Should the discretion involved in criminal sentencing be rested in the hands of the prosecutor, the judge, or the legislature of the State?
Prosecutors’ power of controlling important prosecutorial decisions such as charging and plea-bargaining makes them the most powerful officials within the criminal justice system of America. Considering the seriousness of the decisions to be made, the discretion involved in criminal sentencing should not be rested in hands of prosecutors only. Prosecutors hold the power to charge offenders with a criminal offense, and what should be the charges that an individual is charged with. The decision is very critical since it determines an individual will face criminal charges, hence risking the loss of liberty depending on the discretion that the prosecutor holds on what charges to bring (Davis para. 3-11). The prosecutor might misuse the charging power through threating longer prison terms which could affect the principles of fairness and justice. With mandatory minimum sentences and longer prison terms increasing, the prosecutor’s power of plea bargaining has also increased. The plea bargaining process has increased the risks of individuals’ constitutional right to a trial since prosecutors take advantage of the power they hold during the plea bargaining process. for instance, charging the defendants with an offense that has greater penalties despite not being able to prove it on trial only to get the defendant to plead guilty to a lesser offense. Most of the decisions are conducted in a short time such as requiring the defendant to accept or reject the offer on spot, which does not leave time for the defendant to consult with counsel or possible defenses to be investigated. Therefore, the discretion involved in criminal sentencing should be widespread among all parties involved rather than being left to the prosecutors.
Davis, A. The Power and Discretion of the American Prosecutor. Droit et cultures. 2005, 49, 55-66. http://journals.openedition.org/droitcultures/158. Accessed on 4 Nov. 2019.
Justia. Procedural Due Process Civil. https://law.justia.com/constitution/us/amendment-14/05-procedural-due-process-civil.html. Accessed on 4 Nov. 2019.
McDonough, N. Plea Bargaining: A Necessary Evil, 2 U. Ark. Little Rock L. Rev. 381 (1979). https://lawrepository.ualr.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1398&context=lawreview. Accessed on 4 Nov. 2019.