plea bargain

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Related to Plea negotiation: Plea agreement

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 ?
Anderson, The Police, The Prosecution, and Plea Negotiation Rates: An Exploratory Looli, 12 CRIM.
at 94 (concluding that market-based rules encourage participants to "view plea negotiations as instrumental practices driven by partisan interests, rather than as public law adjudication committed to public principles (such as punishment in proportion to guilt), public criteria for fair process, and public responsibility for the integrity of criminal court judgments").
By utilizing plea mediations instead of plea negotiations, the system could reap the benefits of enhanced communication overseen by a neutral presence employed specifically to lead the parties toward a mutually agreeable disposition.
Instead of creating cliffs between the felony recidivist charge and the stand-alone misdemeanor infraction, the series of graduated enhancements can provide for a wide range of sentencing options during plea negotiations and at trial.
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.
50) Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy had no trouble identifying pretrial plea negotiation as a critical stage protected by the right to counsel.
potential "chill [in] plea negotiations between Crown and defence
103) An innocent defendant may be compelled to enter into plea negotiations if presented with insurmountable evidence against him, and, therefore, be forced to enter a guilty plea to a lower charge to avoid the risk of a more severe charge resulting from a trial verdict.
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.
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.
108) Also, they specifically provide that "[m]ultiplicity of charging should never be used in order to simply provide scope for plea negotiation.
Its integrity will continue to exert unseen pressures on the plea negotiation process.