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NCJ Number: 66773 Find in a Library
Title: PLEA-BARGAINING IN ENGLAND (FROM PLEA-BARGAINING, 1980, BY WILLIAM F MCDONALD AND JAMES A CRAMER - SEE NCJ-66765)
Author(s): R D SEIFMAN
Corporate Author: Lexington Books
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 19
Sponsoring Agency: Lexington Books
New York, NY 10022
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE CURRENT PRACTICE OF PLEA-BARGAINING IN ENGLAND WAS STUDIED IN THE CONTEXT OF LONDON'S CROWN AND MAGISTRATE COURTS.
Abstract: PLEA-BARGAINING OCCURS EARLY IN THE TRIAL PROCESS--IN THE ARREST STAGE--BETWEEN DEFENDANTS AND POLICE, AND LATER IN THE MAGISTRATE'S COURT, WHERE WHISPERS IN COURT CORRIDORS MAY DETERMINE THE CLIENTS' PLEA AND THE CHARGES BEING PERFERRED. A PROJECT TO DISCOVER THE EFFECTS OF THIS PROCESS WAS CONDUCTED OVER 2 YEARS AND INVOLVED ADMINISTERING STANDARDIZED QUESTIONNAIRES TO 200 CONVICTED PRISONERS TRACING THE DEVELOPMENT OF THEIR CASES FROM THE TIME OF THEIR ARREST THROUGH THE TRIAL PROCESS UNTIL FINAL DISPOSITION. HALF THE PRISONERS WERE SENTENCED IN MAGISTRATES' COURTS AND THE OTHER HALF IN CROWN COURTS. A SECOND PART OF THE PROJECT CONSISTED OF INTERVIEWS WITH THE PRISONERS' LAWYERS (120 SOLICITORS AND 90 BARRISTERS) REGARDING THE PROCESS OF PLEA FORMULATION, THEIR INFLUENCE ON CLIENTS' PLEAS, AND THEIR OPINIONS ON PLEA-BARGAINING. OF THE 200 PRISONERS, 81.5 PERCENT WERE CONVICTED AFTER PLEADING GUILTY. DEFENDANTS WHO MAINTAINED THEIR INNOCENCE AT THE CROWN COURT LEVEL FOLLOWED THROUGH UNTIL EVENTUAL DISPOSITION OF THE CASE, WHILE 66.6 PERCENT OF DEFENDANTS AT THE MAGISTRATE'S COURT WHO ORIGINALLY PLEAD NOT GUILTY ULTIMATELY CHANGED THEIR PLEA. POLICE ADVICE ACCOUNTED FOR OVER 18 PERCENT OF PLEA CHANGES. OF GREAT CONCERN IS THE RELATIVELY HIGH INCIDENCE OF POLICE DENIAL OF ACCESS TO LEGAL REPRESENTATIVES. WHILE SOLICITORS CONCEDED THAT THEY HAD INFLUENCED THEIR CLIENTS' PLEAS IN A NUMBER OF CASES, THEY MAINTAINED, AS DID THE BARRISTERS, THAT THEIR PRESENCE AND THE INTEGRITY OF LEGAL RESPRESENTATIVES COMBINED TO SAFEGUARD CLIENTS AGAINST ABUSE. NO CLAIMS WERE MADE OF JUDICIAL PRESSURE BEING BROUGHT TO BEAR UPON THE ACCUSED TO TENDER A PLEA OF GUILTY. OVERALL, THE STUDY SHOWED THAT IN ENGLAND MOST DEFENDANTS PLEAD GUILTY BECAUSE THEY WERE UNABLE TO CONTEST THEIR CASE, BECAUSE THEY APPEAR TO BE CONVICTED ON VOLUNTARY ADMISSIONS OF GUILT OR THE SUPERIOR EVIDENCE OF THE PROSECUTION, AND BECAUSE THEY LACK COMPULSORY LEGAL REPRESENTATION, WHICH THE LONDON STUDY MAINTAINS PRODUCES UNCHECKED GUILTY PLEAS IN THE LOWER COURTS. NOTES ARE PROVIDED. (MHP)
Index Term(s): Coercive persuasion of offenders; Dispositions; England; Plea negotiations; Pleas; Police-offender relations; Prosecutors; Right to counsel; Sentencing/Sanctions
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=66773

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