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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 64744 Find in a Library
Title: CONDITIONAL GUILTY PLEAS
Journal: HARVARD LAW REVIEW  Volume:93  Issue:3  Dated:(JANUARY 1980)  Pages:564-585
Author(s): ANON
Corporate Author: Harvard Law Review Assoc
Harvard Law Review
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 23
Sponsoring Agency: Harvard Law Review Assoc
Cambridge, MA 02138
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE ARGUMENT THAT CONDITIONAL GUILTY PLEAS ARE PERMISSIBLE, THAT THEY REPRESENT SOUND JUDICIAL POLICY, AND THAT THE CONSTITUTION COMPELS COURTS TO GIVE CRIMINAL DEFENDANTS THIS OPTION IS PRESENTED.
Abstract: AT PRESENT, THE MAJORITY OF CRIMINAL CASES BROUGHT TO COURT ARE DISPOSED OF THROUGH GUILTY PLEAS. PLEA BARGAINING PLAYS AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN THAT MANY DEFENDANTS BELIEVE THEY CAN OBTAIN LIGHTER SENTENCES BY PLEADING GUILTY THAN THEY COULD BY EXERCISING THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO PLEAD NOT GUILTY AND GO TO TRIAL. MANY CRITICS OF THE SYSTEM HAVE SUGGESTED GREATER USE OF THE CONDITIONAL GUILTY PLEA. USED IN SEVERAL FEDERAL CIRCUITS AND AT LEAST FOUR STATES, IT ALLOWS THE DEFENDANT TO PLEAD GUILTY, THUS AVOIDING A TRIAL WHICH SERVES NO PURPOSE, WHILE EXPRESSLY PRESERVING THE RIGHT TO APPEAL THE DENIAL OF THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE ON CONSTITUTIONAL GROUNDS. BOTH THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHTS AND THE POLICIES UNDERLYING THE EXCLUSIONARY RULE OF EVIDENCE ARE LIKELY TO BE ADVANCED. THE SUPREME COURT, IN THE 1975 CASE OF LEFKOWITZ V. NEWSOME, RECOGNIZED THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE CONDITIONAL GUILTY PLEA AND THE UNCONDITIONAL PLEA. IN ADDITION, NO SPECIFIC BARS TO SUCH PLEAS ARE FOUND IN EITHER THE FEDERAL RULES OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE OR FEDERAL OR STATE JURISDICTIONAL STATUTES. CONDITIONAL GUILTY PLEAS ARE LIKELY TO COME ONLY FROM THOSE DEFENDANTS WHOSE CLAIMS ARE SO SUBSTANTIAL THAT THEY WILL BE WILLING TO FORGO A FULL 'DISCOUNT' OF SENTENCE TO PRESERVE THEM. ALTHOUGH THE CONDITIONAL PLEA MAY BE ATTACKED AS UNDERMINING THE FINALITY OF A DECISION BECAUSE OF ITS CONTINGENT NATURE, FINALITY HAS NEVER BEEN PARAMOUNT WHEN THE VINDICATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS IS AT STAKE. THE SUPREME COURT HAS OFTEN EXPANDED POSTCONVICTION REMEDIES TO PROTECT SUCH RIGHTS EVEN AT THE EXPENSE OF FINALITY. ALSO, THE LIMITING OF DEFENDANTS' CHOICES IN PLEADINGS IS CONSTITUTIONALLY SUSPECT; IN SIMMONS V. UNITED STATES (1968) THE SUPREME COURT RECOGNIZED THAT BURDENS ON A DEFENDANT'S CHOICE TO ASSERT AN EXCLUSIONARY RULE CLAIM ARE SUBJECT TO CONSTITUTIONAL SCRUTINY. THE CONDITIONAL GUILTY PLEA SHOULD BE ADOPTED. FOOTNOTES ARE INCLUDED. (LWM)
Index Term(s): Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Criminal proceedings; Defendants; Laws and Statutes; Plea negotiations; Pleas; Rights of the accused
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=64744

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