This house would abolish plea bargaining

A plea bargain is a process in which the defendant arranges a 'deal' with the prosecution. A plea bargain essentially means that a defendant charged with multiple crimes will plead guilty to a certain charge in order to escape going to trial for a more serious charge. In the United States, the majority of criminal cases are settled through plea bargains.

It is important to recognize, however, that while the majority of criminal cases in the United States never go to trial that this does not mean that in the majority of plea bargains include an agreement to testify in court. There have been some notable cases where accused criminals agreed to testify against co-conspirators with the understanding that they would plead guilty to less serious charges. Oddly, both notable cases involved athletes: Michael Vick and O.J. Simpson. In both cases, prosecutors sought incriminating testimony in order to improve their case against the star athletes.

However, it is worth keeping in mind that in most cases plea bargains are entered into simply to avoid going to trial. Criminal trials are basically winner take all propositions, which make them relatively risky for both prosecution and defense. Further, in the United States, where the criminal justice system is crowded with cases, plea deals are sometimes offered simply to resolve cases quickly and more efficiently. Whether this results in defendants pleading guilty to crimes they didn't commit or to lesser crimes than they actually did commit is on open question, one that ought to be researched and explored by debaters preparing to debate these cases.

Could plea bargaining in exchange for testimony be just in other countries but not in the United States? Is there something that makes plea bargaining in the United States different from plea bargaining anywhere else? And if so, what is it? If not, then what's the importance of this phrase?


Beeman, Yvette. "ACCOMPLICE TESTIMONY UNDER CONTINGENT PLEA AGREEMENTS." 1987 Cornell Law ReviewCassidy, Michael. The Problem of Implied Inducements. 2004 Northwestern Law Review.Haldin, James W.. Toward a Level Playing Field. Washington and Lee Law Review.Jeffries, John C. "The Federalization of Organized Crime: Advantages of Federal Prosecution". 1995 University of CaliforniaMay, Larry.


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