Plea Bargaining



Every year about 95% of all individuals charged with different crimesplead guilty and enjoy lenient convictions(Wan, 2007). Consequently, this paper will seek toexplore whether or not plea bargaining improves the efficiency of thecriminal justice system. This paper maintains that plea bargainingweakens the criminal justice systems by allowing criminals to beconvicted of crimes different from the ones they committed.

Plea bargaining is an arrangement between a defendant and theprosecutor in a criminal case that involves the former agreeing toplead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence or charge. However,it does not encompass situations where the available evidencejustifies a lenient sentence. Apart from inducing the accused toplead guilty, plea bargaining aims at saving the cost and time forthe court and the defendant. This paper holds that plea bargainingweakens the criminal justice systems by allowing criminals to beconvicted of crimes different from the ones they committed.

The criminal law safeguards the society in three primary ways:rehabilitation, isolation, and deterrence. Potential criminals aredeterred from committing crimes with the threat of harsh punishment.On the other hand, rehabilitation entails reforming the undeterredcriminals while isolation targets at removing sentenced offendersfrom the society. According to Levenson(2011), plea bargaining weakens deterrence becausecriminals know that they will face lenient convictions. Besides, itoffers offenders an opportunity to brag about how the law has noteeth, which means that punishment ceases to serve the indirectdeterrence role it is supposed to play. This is because people whosee a criminal face a lesser sentence remain undeterred and arelikely to commit crimes.

Apart from failing to deter potential criminals from committingcrimes, plea bargaining does not make the criminal justice systemefficient by disposing of a large number of cases relatively quickly.Those who support plea bargaining argues that it saves time and moneythat come with a lengthy trial. Besides, its proponents claim that itimproves the efficiency of the criminal justice system by reducingthe backlog of cases(Levenson, 2011). While it is true that plea bargainingreduces the number of unresolved cases, it encourages the mentalitythat is better for a half a loaf than none. It depicts the courtsystem as desperate in its desire to solve cases faster as opposed toensuring that justice is served for both the accused and the victim.Instead of compromising on the principle of justice, the court systemshould employ other methods that guarantee faster resolution ofcases. For example, improvements in the forensic science techniquesfor collecting evidence will result in cases taking shorter periodwithout the use of plea bargaining(Wan, 2007).

Besides, plea bargaining weakens the criminal justice by allowing acriminal to be convicted of crimes different from the one he/shecommitted. For example, plea bargaining allows a young person accusedof damaging a car to be charged with joyriding. As such, pleabargaining is inherently unjust because it promises less severesentence in exchange for a guilty plea. Not only does plea bargainingpermeates injustice on the part of the victim, but also tends toobtain guilty pleasforcefully (Levenson, 2011). Mostly, prosecutors giveaccused persons a sweet deal they cannot ignore. If a suspect sticksto his/her ground, he/she is usually threatened with a harsherpunishment. More often than not, when a person is accused of aserious crime such as rape, he/she is likely to be scared. As such,when promised that he/she will be charged with a lesser crime theperson is likely to agree to the plea bargaining deal even if he/sheknows too well that he/she did not commit the first crime he/she wasaccused of.

In conclusion, while plea bargaining plays a vital role in reducingthe amount of time needed to solve a case, it perpetrates injusticestoward the victim and some offenders. It weakens the criminal justiceby allowing criminals to answer to less serious crimes. Besides, itserves as a scapegoat for the courts as they seem desperate in theirdesire to solve cases faster instead of ensuring that justice isserved for both the suspects and the victims. Instead of relying onplea bargaining to address the problem of many pending cases, thecriminal justice system should improve on the methods that haveproved efficient in collecting evidence.


Levenson, L.L. (2011). Peeking Behind the Process: Missouri v.Frye &amp Lafler v. Cooper.&nbspLoy.LAL Rev.,&nbsp46,457.

Wan, T.(2007). Unnecessary Evil of : An UnconstitutionalConditions Problem and Not-So-Least Restrictive Alternative, The.&nbspS.Cal. Rev. L. &amp Soc. Just.,&nbsp17,33.