Plea Bargaining

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Plea Bargaining is a very complicated and vital, yet controversial part of our legal system. The Oxford English Dictionary defines plea-bargaining as, ?A practice whereby as a defendant in criminal proceedings agrees to plead guilty to a charge in exchange for the prosecutors? cooperation in securing a lenient sentence or some other litigation.? However, there is no standard definition of plea-bargaining used within the legal system. It instead varies from case to case, depending on the context of its use and the jurisdiction of the trial. This creates many different instances in which a plea bargain can exist. Not only do they exist under many different circumstances, but they develop and are agreed upon under many different circumstances as well. There are usually two main purposes for a plea bargain. For the defendant, it is to get a lesser penalty than what is expected for what they are on trial for.

For the attorney?s and judges, it is to move cases along quicker, and to unclog their schedules and courtrooms. These two reasons lead to a very high rate of trials that are settled by a plea bargain. Plea-bargaining has a long history in our legal system and has, in fact, been a tool for about as long as public prosecution has existed. But no matter where or how plea-bargaining occurs, there is always some moral issue or what some might call unfairness in our court system involved.

A plea-bargain usually starts off with negotiations that lead to an initial verbal agreement between the defense attorney, who is representing the defendant, and the district attorney. This type of bargaining allows the defendant to plead guilty to a lesser charge than that of the one that they are on trial for, usually leading to a lesser sentence or punishment.