Plea bargains serve a few different purposes in the court and justice systems. By giving a choice of doing a plea bargain or not, the state or city saves a lot of money, because as far as I know going to trial is not cheap these days. From the defense¶s side plea bargains help eliminate or reduce the risk of a severe sentence following a potential conviction. For the prosecution¶s side, plea bargains are sometimes offered in order for them to get a testimony from the accused, which could lead to a conviction in another, higher profile case. For example, a small time dealer gets busted for selling to a 12 year old kid. He gets arrested and then is given the option of taking a plea bargain to reduce the sentence to a misdemeanor or he can take it to trial and get 5-10 years. The trick was that he had to agree to testify against the big time drug dealer who he worked for. Another example of a plea bargain could be a man who was charged for murdering his wife, if he agreed to take the plea bargain his murder charge could have been reduced to a manslaughter charge if he was able to provide more information for the D.A¶s office. Some positives of the drug dealer case could be that the man would still get the chance to give back to society and not get away with the crime and the big time dealer could be put away for awhile and possibly taught a lesson. By going to prison the big guy could then learn new trades so that they don¶t have to feel like dealing drugs is the only thing that they know, they could possibly even obtain an education if they don¶t already have one. The negatives of plea bargains with this particular example are that with any charge the small time dealer would think that anytime he gets into trouble he could just nark on someone and all would be forgiven. With the murder example the only positive would be that by plea bargaining he would have to plead guilty of the crime and then give people a piece of mind knowing that he was away. There are many negatives with this particular example and some of them include the fact that when



someone murders someone else, they should be locked up for life and nothing should help them get out. I guess considering the circumstances and the person¶s mental state it would change things a little bit but with plea bargains, prosecutors just want to get the win and they could care less when the person gets out. It seems as though some parts of the system aren¶t exactly what anyone would do if they were in the position to do something to someone who kills someone else.

The two most prevalent types of plea bargains are pleading guilty to a lesser charge and pleading guilty to one or two charges when multiple charges have been filed. If a defendant has been charged with first degree murder, but the prosecutor is not positive the evidence proves the defendant premeditated the crime, a lesser charge of second degree murder or manslaughter may be agreed upon by both sides. Many defendants may be charged with robbery, using a firearm in the commission of a robbery, breaking and entering, and kidnapping in the commission of a robbery; the defendant may willing to plead guilty to one charge of robbery if the other three charges are dropped. The prosecutor may not be willing to accept a lesser charge, but in cases where extreme violence was not present and the defendant has no prior offences, the prosecutor may ask for leniency during the sentencing process. It would be mandatory for the defendant to plead guilty in this case.

In less serious criminal cases, if the defendant pleads guilty, the prosecutor may suggest that the court sentence the defendant to probation and full restitution to the victim.

An example of this type of plea bargain ((Lynch, Timothy, 2003) would be evidenced in a New York State case in 2002. A teen was charged with criminally negligent homicide in the heroin overdose of a friend. The defendant, in fear of receiving the maximum sentence, pled



guilty to a lesser charge. Instead of serving time in a state prison, the defendant was sentenced to serve six months in a criminal rehabilitation center.

Weighing the pros and cons of the plea bargaining option overall, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. It is easy to understand why victims would desire that the maximum sentence possible be imposed; however, considering that bringing every criminal case to court would be impossible for the courts to handle, and that the plea bargaining tool does provide justice, it is logical to agree that this alternative to a trial would be a speedy, and cost-effective resolution of a case.

The prospect that the use of the plea bargain will be eliminated in future criminal cases is grim indeed. Although crime statistics overall are difficult to predict, drug related crimes have been increasing since the late 1990s. With the economy spiraling downward, robbery related crimes may be on the rise once again. Without the plea bargaining tool, court resources would have to be raised to unrealistic limits. Therefore, it will be the responsibility of the judges involved in such agreements to assure that the option is not being overused or used improperly. So, with this being said I would like to see plea bargains being used in the future for our protection and the protection of others. Not only is it dangerous having people out on the streets awaiting trial(especially now in my area where all jails are practically full, leaving the system no other choice except to release pretty much everyone who is arrested) but it is also crazy.




Lynch, Timothy, (2003), Director, Cato Institute Project on Criminal Justice, Retrieved on March 1, 2009, from web site

Meyer, Jon¶a F and Grant, Diana R. ³The Courts in our Criminal Justice System´ 2003. Ch 11 in Pearson Education.

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