What are the downsides to a plea bargain?

On Behalf of | Aug 25, 2022 | Criminal Law |

Plea bargains have had a somewhat tumultuous history, with people pretty evenly divided over whether they find it to be good and useful or problematic.

Though there are certainly a number of positives to plea bargains, there is also a slew of potential downsides. But what exactly are they?

Coercion by prosecution

Connect Us discusses the advantages and disadvantages of plea bargaining. As far as disadvantages go, the list includes many concerns about the legality of plea bargains and the potential for a person to end up coerced, as well as justice for victims.

First, the prosecution can present the accused with an enormous amount of pressure that may lead to coercion. Some even argue that it is unconstitutional because it takes away a person’s right to a trial by jury. The court finds this procedure constitutional only if the defendant is never pressured into forgoing this right at any point in the process.

Innocent people taking the fall

Of course, plea bargains have also led to innocent people taking the fall before. In order to avoid worse sentences such as life in prison or even the death penalty, innocent people will claim guilt. These bargains often hold more benefit for the prosecution, too.

Skimping on investigations

Some also argue that plea bargaining leads to poor investigations and case preparation. Because people assume they can simply work out an agreement, it may lead to shoddy investigation work by police and poor preparation on the part of attorneys.

In these ways, plea bargains can serve as an unfair detriment to people who may be innocent of the crimes they stand accused of. It can cause more harm than good in such cases.