Prosecutorial discretion The use of prosecutorial discretion within the court system allows the prosecutor the freedom or authority to make judgments based on the existing circumstances as he or she perceives them. One of the most used forms of prosecutorial discretion is the plea bargaining.
Plea Bargaining Plea bargain gives the prosecutor the ability to accept a guilty plea on a lesser charge than that was originally brought. <90% of all criminal cases are disposed of through guilty pleas. Although the use of plea bargaining has both a positive and negative side, the courts have come to accept guilty pleas and plea bargaining as part of the criminal justice system.
Plea Agreement A plea agreement is usually reached after the prosecution and defense discuss the issues at hand, where the prosecution will normally offer possible solutions. 1. A reduction in charge 2. Dismissal of other pending charges 3. A promise to recommend or not contest a particular sentence. 4. A stipulation that a particular sentence is the appropriate disposition. The defendant decides whether to take the plea of guilty based on given offers.
Types of Guilty Pleas There are two types of guilty pleas for a defendant 1. Common plea of GUILTY 2. Plea of nolo contendere, which is the same as guilty plea, except it cannot be used against a defendant as an admission of guilt in a subsequent civil case.
Defendant Benefits of Plea Bargaining Lessens the time and money spent on defendants defending themselves at trial Lessens the risk of harsher punishment Avoids the publicity that is sometime involved with a public trial.
Court System benefits of Plea Bargaining The system is already over burdened with cases and if there were no plea bargains, the courts would have to conduct a trial on every crime that was charged.