Chapter 14: Plea Bargaining
Plea bargaining In the United States, defendants plead guilty in 90 percent or more of criminal cases. In most such cases, defendants are treated leniently in exchange for pleading guilty—a practice known as plea bargaining, which may involve altering charges or reducing sentences. This process may be explicit or implicit. Charge bargaining is a form of plea bargaining, in which the prosecutor agrees either to reduce the charges—for example, by changing the charge from murder to manslaughter—or drop one or more of the charges against the defendant. Sentence bargaining occurs where the prosecutor offers to recommend that the judge impose a more lenient sentence. Explicit plea bargaining occurs when charges are altered or sentences reduced based on an explicit agreement between the prosecution and defense. Implicit plea bargaining, however, involves no such agreement—and thus no actual bargaining. Instead, defendants plead guilty with the understanding that they will be treated more ...