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NCJ Number: 114174 Find in a Library
Title: Tolerated Contests? Plea and Sentence in the Victorian Magistrates' Courts
Journal: Journal of Criminal Justice  Volume:16  Issue:4  Dated:(1988)  Pages:269-290
Author(s): R Douglas
Date Published: 1988
Page Count: 22
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Contested cases can be stressful, time-consuming events, and some analysts of court behavior have argued that prosecutors, lawyers, and judges will therefore be receptive to strategies that encourage guilty pleas. Sentencing practices are among the measures utilized.
Abstract: If defendants who plead guilty receive lighter sentences than those convicted after pleading not-guilty, this should serve to discourage defendants from going to contest. Most jurisdictions possess mechanisms for achieving this result. In some the prosecutor plays the key role, and in others it is the judge. The degree to which bargaining is explicit varies. Findings on the relationship between plea and sentence have not been consistent. Possible explanations are methodological. For example, to the extent that plea is related to sentence-relevant variables, failure to control for these may under- or over-estimate the relationship, depending on the direction of the relationships of these variables with sentence. Other factors to be considered include the strength of the case against the defendant and selection bias. Findings of research so far have varied considerably by country, but it is necessary to note differences in the levels of courts studied. Most of the research conducted in the United States has dealt with felony courts, whereas Canadian, English, and Australian studies have focused on lower levels. The present study sought to fill gaps in the literature by examining the relationship between plea and sentence in a relatively unexplored context, namely the Magistrates' courts that serve the Australian state of Victoria. 23 footnotes; 87 references. (Author abstract)
Main Term(s): Plea negotiations
Index Term(s): Australia
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