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)

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References in periodicals archive ?
help [defendants'] attorneys assess the strength of the prosecution's case and can give them leverage in plea negotiations." (205) Professor Bonnie's "decisional competence" test is more comprehensive than the Dusky standard because it requires the defendant to explain the decision to plead guilty.
(91) Lawyers, not judges, play the primary role in plea negotiations. (92) Defense and prosecution lawyers may meet outside the presence of the defendant, with the defense attorney relaying the substance of the discussions back to his or her client.
Officers around the country have even found ways to influence plea negotiations in the face of opposition from prosecutors.
Quantifying these consequences, which are not numerical in nature, is difficult for both parties in plea negotiations, and both parties already suffer from several obfuscating effects.
Imagine a stage other than bail that affects the outcome of a plea negotiation but does not do so by affecting the outcome of a would-be subsequent trial.
therefore, as sufficient to displace plea negotiation privilege:
It was not until fourteen years after Brady that a court first analyzed the applicability of a prosecutor's disclosure duty in a pre-plea context, finding that intentional prosecutorial suppression during plea negotiations could deprive a defendant of his or her due process rights.
Kentucky underscores the defense bar's stake in participating in the ABA standard-setting process to guide the development of defense counsel's obligations in plea negotiations. In addition, to the extent the courts give the ABA Standards credence in judging ineffective assistance claims, they can be powerful catalysts for changing the behavior of other actors in the plea process, as well as system norms.
3d DCA May 8, 2002), the trial judge initiated plea negotiations with the defendant after his first trial had ended in a hung jury, strongly suggesting that he accept the state's four-year offer.
One important benefit is finality: the defendant can avoid the expense, humiliation, and uncertainties of trial because the plea bargain is considered a final judgment.(186) Moreover, plea negotiation may lead to more suitable sentences.
(4) The term "plea negotiations" (leading to "plea agreements") is preferred in some jurisdictions, including Western Australia, because of the "deal making" connotations associated with "bargaining" and the understanding we have of the formalized system in the United States.
(50) Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy had no trouble identifying pretrial plea negotiation as a critical stage protected by the right to counsel.