plea bargain

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plea bargain

n. in criminal procedure, a negotiation between the defendant and his attorney on one side and the prosecutor on the other, in which the defendant agrees to plead "guilty" or "no contest" to some crimes, in return for reduction of the severity of the charges, dismissal of some of the charges, the prosecutor's willingness to recommend a particular sentence, or some other benefit to the defendant. Sometimes one element of the bargain is that the defendant reveal information such as location of stolen goods, names of others participating in the crime, or admission of other crimes (such as a string of burglaries). The judge must agree to the result of the plea bargain before accepting the sentence. If he does not, then the bargain is cancelled. Reasons for the bargaining include a desire to cut down on the number of trials, danger to the defendant of a long term in prison if convicted after trial, and the ability to get information on criminal activity from the defendant. There are three dangers: a) an innocent defendant may be pressured into a confession and plea out of fear of a severe penalty if convicted; b) particularly vicious criminals will get lenient treatment and be back "on the street" in a short time; c) results in unequal treatment. Public antipathy to plea bargaining has led to some state statutes prohibiting the practice, but informal discussions can get around the ban. (See: plea, cop a plea)

References in periodicals archive ?
This is in part because very few of the protections one would find in a traditional adversarial trial are found in the plea-bargaining process, except for the right to effective assistance of counsel discussed above.
This system would also keep all information relating to plea-bargaining decisions in-house, preventing the disclosure of trial strategy to defense attorneys.
The section will explore the pitfalls and criticisms of the plea-bargaining process, demonstrating the need for some kind of oversight to monitor and regulate the process.
decisionmaking, and plea-bargaining jurisprudence has focused on
prosecutors with leverage in the plea-bargaining process and also
On Tuesday, the prosecutors signaled a possible plea-bargaining deal with an announcement that they had brought a new perjury charge against Serizawa.
Would the plea-bargaining process find more acceptance among the general public if it was more open?
In practical terms, the death penalty increases the plea-bargaining rate from approximately 40% to 60%.
In addition to the perceived increase in plea-bargaining leverage resulting from the severity of the punishment, prosecutors typically enjoy huge advantages by merely seeking the death sentence.
Though plea-bargaining rates rose significantly in the early
exoneration data when applied to plea-bargaining research.