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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 135630 Find in a Library
Title: Agreements for Cooperation in Criminal Cases
Journal: Vanderbilt Law Review  Volume:45  Issue:1  Dated:(January 1992)  Pages:1-67
Author(s): G Hughes
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 67
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article addresses issues associated with cooperation agreements: negotiated agreements between the State and potential defendants for immunity and lenient plea bargaining in return for cooperation in securing evidence against persons whose crimes are deemed very severe.
Abstract: The article first traces the history of informal immunity grants and examines the prosecutor's discretion in the choice of whom to immunize or treat leniently in return for cooperation. Ways of monitoring this discretion are also discussed. Other issues addressed are whether the testimony admitted under cooperation agreements may infringe on a defendant's right to a fair trial and whether enforcement of cooperation agreements by the State may impose an unfair burden on the cooperating witness. The chief dangers of cooperation agreements are the improper or imprudent selection of the beneficiaries of informal immunity or lenient bargains; the presentation of unacceptably tainted or suspect testimony against defendants; and agreements with cooperators that may impose unconscionable obligations on cooperators, confer unacceptable license to commit future crimes, or unreasonably forgive their past crimes. Another danger consists of the possibility of vindictive or excessively harsh retaliations against cooperators who, in a prosecutor's opinion, have not complied with their obligations under the agreement. Even given these dangers, the cooperation agreement may be a necessary instrument for the prosecution of certain dangerous and elusive criminals. Its risks and dangers must be addressed through administrative rules. 246 footnotes
Main Term(s): Witness immunity
Index Term(s): Plea negotiations; Prosecutorial discretion
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