Chapter 10 - Plea Bargaining and Jury Trial
Terms in this set (49)
Plea Bargaining - 2 Major Types
Explicit Plea Bargaining
Concessions from the State through prosecuting attorney, 4 possiblities:
1) Charge reduction, in number and type
2) Specific sentence recommendation, typically a reduced sentence/exchange of guilty plea
3) Promise from prosecutor that they will not oppose defense attorney's request for probation
4) Other specific considerations (such as a jail close to family members)
Implicit Plea Bargaining
More difficult to detect, when a defendant refused to accept a plea bargain and goes to trial, the defendant ends up being punished more harshly. Especially true for repeat offenders.
Criticisms of plea bargaining
3 evils (Langbein 1992)
Offenders not punished severely enough, early release, may go on to continue criminal careers
3 Evils - 1
It bypasses trial and jury, concentrates power to punish to the state, deals with lots of behind the scenes decision making, prosecutors not held accountable to public for actions
3 Evils - 2
Wrong because based on coercion, defense is under significant pressure to hear witness against him/herself, waive due process rights, defeats purpose of CJS, prosecutors will over charge defense in the hope that something will stick, defense pleads guilty because of fear of unpredictable trial
3 Evils - 3
Negotiated justice is a mockery of our criminal justice statistics, 90% of criminal convictions are based on plea bargains, not an accurate picture of crimes commited
Benefits of plea bargaining
NY Supreme Court justice Demorats says that plea bargain deals offer benefits to the process:
1) Allows for those who would be difficult to cross examine or testify not to have to go to trial
2) Beneficial with witnesses who are truthful but not credible
Judges and Plea Bargaining
Responsible for ratifying agreements between prosecutors and defense attorney, if a judge refuses to sign off on plea agreement, the prosecution will lose credibility and negotiations for a guilty plea will come to a standstill
Judge will request guilty plea...
... to move cases along
Judge will rarely reject guilty plea when...
... sentencing recommendation comes from the prosecutor
Study on Plea Bargaining (Heumann 1981), judges support plea bargain for 4 reasons:
1) Makes their jobs easier, no trial to prepare for
2) Difficult decision of sentencing is removed
3) Expidites "moving the business" through the CJ process
4) Plea Bargaining reduces chances that their judicial decisions will be reviewed by an appellate court
... that rights of defendants have been protected, making sure factually innocent people are not pleading guilty
"Assembly Line Justice"
critics say guilty pleas are rarely put in voluntarily
Ulmer and Bradley (2006) study on Pennsylvania sentencing data
With defendants convicted of similar crimes, those in trial punished more harshly than with plea bargains, reasons for this is the way we view defenders at trial
"Construction of Offenders"
Those who plead guilty are remorseful, going to trial shows lack of remorse
Criminal trials are an ___________ process
adversarial, 2 sides - Defense vs. Prosecution
Before trial begins
defense attorney and clients have a right to view discovery
Certain information gathered by prosecutors, ex. blood tests, transcripts of interrogations, defense may find exculpatory evidence
Based on Discovery
attorney may advise client to plead guilty or innocent
Most jurisdictions will let defendant decide between
jury trial and bench trial
All defendants have the right to a jury trial when the punishment can exceed
6 months, however, only 2% of cases go to trial, and 3% are decided by a judge
6th Amendment is right to
impartial jury, purpose is to protect defendants from arbitrary law enforcement, protect citizen from overzealous prosecution or eccentric/biases judges, prevents gov't oppression, however, unbiased jury seldom occurs
Selection of Jury Pool
Up to the 1900's...
... states excluded women/people of color from juries, today race/gender/age is still a large impact factor
Jury comes from a pool of
... voters, license holders, and landowners, those unlikely to have these things are most likely minorities, poor, uneducated
Appellate courts ruled master jury list must reflect
cross section of jurisdiction, women and minorities may not be excluded based on race/gender, it also doesn't mean they are automatically on the jury
Jury pool is selected and questionnaires are sent out, sent back to courts, those selected are called to court house for Voir Dire
To prevent bias, defense and prosecution has list of...
... questions and challenges about ability to be unbiased in a case
Challenges for Cause
disqualify jurors who's statements/background may be seen as prejudicial, must explain why they are removing
Removing juror without cause
Size of Jury
Varies by state, must have 12 per jury in death penalty cases, U.S. supreme court ruled that jury number is up to the state, but must range with alternates, typically 30 to 35, potential jurors are summoned
12 jurors, minimum of 2 alternates, summon 40 to 45 for minor felonies, 60 to 65 for high profile
High Profile Cases
jury can be sequestered, don't get to go home, no media access, etc.
in death penalty trials, automatic exlusion from trial jury, if you don't believe in death penalty
Jury is selected and prosecutor and defense makes opening statements
Prosecution outlines case...
things to look for, and how they will prove the defendant is guilty
argument for acquittal, why the prosecutor can't prove guilt
Body of Trial
Prosecution makes their case, followed by defense
Types of Examination
direct examination, cross examination, redirect examination, recross examination
Prosecution/Defense can raise objection if...
... question violates rule of evidence, judge rules sustained/overruled
Defense must employ general defense for clients, general defense is...
... justification or excuses for criminal conduct that are applicable to all criminal cases
2 Types of General Defense
1) Justification Defense argues that criminal act was just by overwhelming circumstances (self defense)
2) Excuse Defense argues that criminal act should be excused because defendant can't be held responsible (insanity/duress) justifies offenders conduct, seeks to excuse the offender as an individual
After all evidence is presented...
prosecution/defense makes final arguments (summations), in those the prosecutor will outline the ways they fulfilled burden of proof, defense shows how state does not fulfill burden of proof
judge gives jury instructions, includes outlining elements of the crime, degree of proof needed for a guilty verdict, jury will deliberate until a verdict is reached, jury must be unanimous in all states for guilty
Occurs when jury cannot make a decision, defense can be tried again with a different jury
jury acquits defendant despite facts that show guilt, majority of American's do not know about jury nullification
If jury finds defendant guilty...
... defense will be sentenced within limits established by law, doesn't happen right after trail (can be weeks/month)
... defense can appeal points of law that resulted in conviction, however, there is no constitutional right to appeal, prerogative to do so is granted by the state/statutes, all jurisdictions provide at least one direct appeal for criminal convictions
receive appeal from defendant, can receive and see "blunder" in trial but agree that it would not change the verdict, conviction is overturned when fundamentals right is violated or when an error affected the outcome of the case. one issue in LaMar case was overturning evidence