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NCJ Number: 69226 Find in a Library
Title: PLEA BARGAINING - ITS EFFECT ON SENTENCING AND CONVICTIONS IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Journal: JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL LAW AND CRIMINOLOGY  Volume:70  Issue:3  Dated:(FALL 1979)  Pages:360-375
Author(s): W M RHODES
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 16
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE PURPOSE OF PLEA BARGAINING AND ITS IMPACT ON THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM ARE DISCUSSED IN TERMS OF ITS ADVANTAGES TO THE PROSECUTOR AND TO THE PEOPLE THROUGH THE ACHIEVEMENT OF OTHERWISE UNATTAINABLE CONVICTIONS.
Abstract: THE RESEARCH REPORTED IN THIS STUDY ADDRESSES THE ISSUES OF WHAT PLEA BARGAINING SHOULD ACCOMPLISH, GIVEN PREVAILING NORMS OF JUSTICE; WHAT PLEA BARGAINING ACTUALLY DOES ACCOMPLISH, GIVEN THE REALITY OF THE JUDICIAL PROCESS; AND HOW THE EXISTING PRACTICE COULD BE MODIFIED OR PRESERVED THROUGH PUBLIC POLICY. AN ATTEMPT IS MADE TO ANSWER THE QUESTION OF WHO GAINS AND WHO LOSES FROM PLEA BARGAINING. BASED ON DATA CONTAINED IN THE PROSECUTOR'S MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM (PROMIS) MAINTAINED BY THE UNITED STATE ATTORNEY IN WASHINGTON, D.C., THIS ANALYSIS IS ESSENTIALLY EMPIRICAL: THE ATTEMPT TO QUANTIFY OBSERVATIONS AND SUPPORT CONCLUSIONS STATISTICALLY CONTRASTS WITH AN EQUALLY IMPORTANT, EXISTING BODY OF RESEARCH, WHICH IS MORE QUALITATIVE. A LITERATURE REVIEW ON THE SUBJECT OF PLEA BARGAINING, AND THE EXPERIENCE OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT (OPERATION DOORSTOP) SUPPORT THE CONTENTION THAT, BECAUSE OF THE UNCERTAINTIES OF TRIAL, WERE IT NOT FOR THE SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF GUILTY PLEAS, A LARGE NUMBER OF CRIMINAL CASES PROBABLY WOULD NOT RESULT IN CONVICTIONS. THUS GUILTY PLEAS, OBTAINED CHIEFLY THROUGH PLEA BARGAINING, AID THE PROSECUTION BY RENDERING CONVICTIONS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE COMMITTED A CRIME, BUT WHO WOULD NOT BE CONVICTED AT TRIAL. AS A FURTHER BENEFIT TO THE PROSECUTOR, AND CONTRARY TO EXPECTATION, SENTENCE CONCESSIONS WERE NOT AWARDED ROUTINELY TO DEFENDANTS WHO ENTERED GUILTY PLEAS. IN FACT, NO CONCESSIONS WERE APPARENT FOR ASSAULT AND LARCENY CASES. FOR BURGLARY, MANY GUILTY PLEAS FOLLOWED CHARGE REDUCTIONS, BUT THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE THAT THESE CHARGE REDUCTIONS RESULTED IN LENIENT SENTENCES. ONLY FOR THE OFFENSE OF ROBBERY WERE SENTENCES MORE SEVERE FOR OFFENDERS CONVICTED AT TRIAL. AS THE DEFENDANT'S ADVERSARY, THE DEFENDANT'S LOSSES ARE THE PROSECUTOR'S GAINS. THUS, THE PROSECUTOR BENEFITS FROM INCREASED CONVICTIONS AND LOSES LITTLE FROM BARGAINING CONCESSIONS. SINCE A TRIAL IS MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE THAN A GUILTY PLEA, A GUILTY PLEA SAVES THE PROSECUTOR'S RESOURCES. IT IS LIKELY THAT WITHOUT THESE SAVINGS HIS OFFICE WOULD BE FORCED TO HANDLE A REDUCED WORK LOAD. FOOTNOTES ARE PROVIDED.
Index Term(s): District of Columbia; Plea negotiations; Sentencing/Sanctions
Note: PORTIONS OF THE RESEARCH DATA CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE WERE PUBLISHED IN PROMIS RESEARCH PUBLICATION NO 14 (INSLAW 1978)
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=69226

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