Being a criminal justice major, plea bargaining is a key thing to understand. I recently had the privilege working with a juvenile court and seeing the court process. It is very rare that a case will go to trial. More often than not, a plea deal will be reached. Here is how it works and some of the pros and cons.
The definition of plea bargaining is“an arrangement between a prosecutor and a defendant whereby the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge in the expectation of leniency.” One of the advantages of plea bargains is that you may receive a lighter sentence than you may if you were to go to trial. By going to trial, you risk receiving the maximum sentence. Plea bargains are helpful because it allows prosecutors to get a guilty convictions for the crime committed which reflects well on that prosecutor.
One of the disadvantage is that many plea bargains are used to get the result that the prosecutor wants regardless of if the accused is guilty or not. Often times, those who are accused of crimes are people who come from low-income areas. They are not able to provide themselves counsel and often are not educated enough to understand how to handle a plea bargain by themselves. In one of the readings that included the case of the man who was slow who didn’t have his own counsel stuck out to me. The judge kept asking him questions and his response was that he didn’t have a lawyer therefore he was unable to make decisions about something that could change his life forever. Plea bargains take advantage of the poor and come from a place of personal benefit. If the suspect takes the plea bargain, there is no trial, there is no long hours preparing for trial, there is no extra money spent on investigations. Another huge disadvantage is that sometimes prosecutors don’t hold up their end of the deal. Sometimes plea bargains are just used to get a guilty verdict and then the defendant is give the maximum sentence.