Search for justice is a sensitive process. It entails accurateness and reliability. The truth, which is the road to justice, must fully be established without any trace of doubt. The process itself is complicated and time- consuming. Nonetheless, it has to be undergone by every party because of the precious life that is at stake. In criminal prosecution, the defendant has been guaranteed rights and privileges. This is so not because the legal system favors him but to shield himself from any arbitrary manipulation of the court or any legal officer.
Constitutionally, the accused is presumed innocent unless proven beyond reasonable doubt (Davis, 2007, p. 44). This is a constitutional grant that cannot be surrendered by the accused. Most importantly, it is to avoid incrimination of innocent people. During the prosecution of the case, it is also very important that the accused undergoes the process of plea bargaining. Generally, plea bargaining is “the negotiation of an agreement between a prosecutor and a defendant whereby the defendant is permitted to plead guilty to a reduced charge” (Merriam- Webster Online, 2008).
Specifically, from the word bargaining, it entails two or more parties, usually the defendant and the prosecutor. On the bargaining, the defendant is given a choice whether to plead guilty and waive his constitutional right or to continue to trial. But before the defendant makes his choice, the prosecutor presents the circumstantial evidences that would lead to the conviction of the defendant. Sometimes, the prosecutor offers dropping some charges against the defendant or the crime will be lowered to a lighter offense in exchange of guilty plea by the defendant.
It can be observed here that the prosecution is in control of the plea bargaining (Davis, 2007, p. 43). The plea bargaining process usually evokes negative reactions because of the belief that the defendant’s right is curtailed (Davis, 2007, p. 43). However, in many instances, it offers several benefits for both the defendant and the prosecutor. It has been said that criminal prosecution consumes time, money, and effort. Plea bargaining offers the shortening of the trial process when the defendant pleaded guilty.
On the part of the prosecutor, if the defendant pleaded guilty, he no longer needs to conduct trials in every case that he prosecute (Davis, 2007, p. 43). Notably, the burden of proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt lies on the prosecutor. If the defendant pleaded guilty, he is no longer required to establish every element of the crime being attributed to the defendant. In addition, the prosecutor will be freed from stress of for presenting witnesses, sending subpoenas, preparing statements for every testimonies, and argue on every issue.
Thus, the trial is shortened and the prosecutor can have other time for his other duties. However, in order to obtain all these, the prosecutor must offer an encouraging and strong incentive to the defendant. Th defendant’s rights to trial and innocence unless proven are a very essential privileges that cannot easily be surrendered. However, when the prosecution can easily establish the elements of the crime committed, the burden will certainly be met and the defendant will be put to prison.
In addition, if the prosecution’s evidences are strong enough, conviction for the defendant will easily be achieved. In these case, it is advantageous for the defendant to plead guilty so as not to expose him to long and tiring trial period. Additionally, it will also shun his family away from stressful trial process. Most importantly, some charges will be dropped in his favor, and he will also be penalized for lesser offense. It also follows that his criminal liability or term of imprisonment will be shortened.
Furthermore, plea bargaining do not necessarily sacrifice the rights of the defendant because at the onset of the plea bargaining, he has given the freedom whether to enter a plea or not. The defendant is very aware of the consequences that the trial may bring to his life and his family, and at this particular stage, he is given a choice to obtain a favorable, or mitigating grant for himself. But definitely, if he is strongly aware that he is innocent, then his rights to trial and presumption of innocence shall be granted.
Courtney from Study Moose
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