In today’s US justice system there is an increasing recognition that jury trials are now a rarity in America and instead there is the popular and becoming a common practice in the legal scenes described as plea bargaining in American courts. This popularity in its use triggers some worth to look at questions as to whether this natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground in legal affairs. To the extent that it is perceived that after every two seconds during a typical working day a criminal case is disposed of in the courtroom by way of a guilty plea or no lo contendere plea. Therefore this dissertation shall look at the issues that surround plea bargaining and to what extend is it effective in the delivery of justice to society.
In a democratic system of government, the Criminal procedure is composed of the rules governing proceedings through which the substantive criminal law is enforced (Albert, Allan, 2008, p. 65) in the court of law. within the legal system of the US most crimes are defined by local and state government (Joseph,2001, p. 14) so that it can be easy to deal with activities extending beyond state boundaries or the matters that deal with federal operations effectively. Regarding legislation that deals with Constitutional Criminal Procedure, there is a rift between the criminal procedure and civil procedure in jurisdictions in the US government (Craig, Lawrence, 2000, p.67).
In this connection, the procedure for criminal trials in federal courts is outlined in the constitution that even was amended in April 2006 in Title 18 of the federal laws. To add to that there are also the statutes that set out the framework for a criminal procedure in the federal courts. It should be pointed out that the Constitution Bill of Rights (Joseph,2001, p. 34) provides basic protections like the light to confront witnesses, the right to not testify, the right to an attorney, and the right to a jury trial which form federal protections to the defendant. Constitution must encompass the aspect of balancing the defendant’s rights and the state interests (Ralph, 1987, p. 87) efficient, speedily, and fair trial with the desire for justice as the ultimate goal.
To draw a line of distinction between the criminal procedure and the civil procedure, the two are different in the sense that two areas of civil and criminal have different objectives (Craig, Lawrence, 2000, p.73) hence the variation of the results in the law enforcement matters. This distinction is drawn from the criminal cases where the state brings the suit and must show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But is different with civil cases where the plaintiff brings the suit and must show the defendant is liable by a preponderance of the evidence to the charges against him or her.
The concept of plea bargain refers to the legal procedure that a prosecutor and a defendant arrange an agreement in a criminal case to settle the case against the defendant before trials (Joseph,2001, p. 18). In this case, the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for the fair punishment or less severe charge of law intensity. This is a measure to reduce the number of cases in the legal system. For instance, the US Plea bargaining is a significant part of the criminal justice system that settles the vast majority of criminal cases. Therefore Federal Sentencing Guidelines created are similar to ensure a standard of uniformity in cases (Albert, Allan, 2008, p. 257) decided in the federal courts in the United States of America legal environment. In this respect there within the justice system that is determinant of society’s fate must therefore be designed to ensure that a defendant’s rights are protected in the rules that stipulate criminal procedure in the federal courts. However, the issue that is outstanding today is the increase in the number of plea bargaining rulings in the US system of justice yet it oppresses the fundamental rights of the defendant (Albert, Allan, 2008, p. 231). This raises a concern as to whether the art of trial is gradually being eliminated in the legal system of the state.
In today’s hard to conceive reality is the shocking aspect of the high percentage of the cases in the US are ruled through plea bargaining and never tried. For instance, more than 90% of the criminal cases in America are never tried within the constitutional framework (John, Maureen, 2007, p. 241). These high numbers of individuals who are accused of crime forgo their constitutional rights by pleading guilt before a prove by the prosecutor. In this regard, the case pertaining to the rarity of jury trials in criminal accusations is not as a result of criminals who come into court to relieve a guilty conscience or save taxpayers the costs of a trial in the court system. But it seems that the government officials have deliberately engineered the system (Albert, Allan, 2008, p. 143) to assure that the jury trial system established by the Constitution is seldom used to attain justice to the defendant yet it bears the significant statutes to deliver desired justice to the community. However in this perceived increased popularity of plea bargaining is also the primary mean by which the government to bypass (George, 2003) the institutional safeguards in trials as far as the justice delivery is concerned.
This agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor to reduce prison sentence in return for the defendant’s waiver of his constitutional right against self-incrimination and his right to trial seem to be the order of the day(John, Maureen, 2007, p. 58). But the controversy is the kind of justice the society gets through the procedure and the issue of fairness that is in the to the citizens who are taxed to support the system that alleviates the workload of prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges and reward the bosses of the governance system with the so-called reduce sentence before trials. As a conscious society, we concern ourselves as to whether it is proper for a government that is constitutionally obligated to respect the right to trial by jury,(Joseph,2001, p. 21) instead uses its sentencing and charging powers to pressure its citizens that it’s supposed to safeguard and protect (Ralph, 1987, p.132) to waive that right to trial. Indeed is a point to throw the conscious mind to in the democratic system of governance that seems to take routs of a dictatorial structure indirectly using unnoticed yet driving tools of design.
Therefore there is no doubt that the government officials entrusted with the affairs of the government business deliberately use their power to pressure persons who have been accused of a crime, and presumed innocent person to confess their guilt and waive their right (Albert, Allan, 2008, p. 327) to a formal trial that is legally appropriate (Ralph, 1987, p. 141). The whole procedures are included in the Bill of Rights that explicitly guarantees several protections to the accused including the right to cross-examine the state’s witnesses, the right to call witnesses on one’s behalf, (John, Maureen, 2007, p. 89) right to an attorney, right to be informed of the charges, right not to be compelled to incriminate oneself, the right to a speedy and public trial, the right to an impartial jury trial in the state and the right to the assistance of counsel. This is not the scene in the legal undertakings regarding the constitution and the fact of the matter is the in US justice environment the defendant has an absolute unqualified (George, 2003, p. 416) right to compel the State to convince the jury through its resources, to prove its facts, to investigate its case at the same time find its witnesses. Through this, there is an unfolding contradiction to the objectivity and attainment of the purpose of design to the Bill of Rights to the American society safeguards freedom (Craig, Lawrence, 2000, p.127).
To sum up this dissertation the concept of Plea bargaining in the justice system rests on the constitutional fiction, that government does not retaliate against citizens who wish to exercise their right to trial by jury in the legal proceedings in court systems today. The fictional nature of that proposition has been apparent to many for some time, therefore more people are concluding that it is intolerable to the culture of plea bargaining. This is because in the process the citizens can waive many of their constitutional rights in the worst of all it seems as selling of their rights. Therefore this presents the courtroom to be the improper place for an auction and haggling when it comes to the question of justice. In this regard, the legal delivery is rifled with unfair prosecutorial tactics and there is a need for reform. So that the Court stop tinkering around the edges of the issue and return to first principles intended by the Framers of the Constitution who were much aware of that less time-consuming trial procedure (plea bargaining), but believed and wrote the Bill of Rights which secures freedom that is worth any cost that results from the procedural expenses to humanity.
Craig R, Lawrence M, (2000), The Tyranny of Good Intentions; New York, Prima Publishing.
Joseph C, (2001), Ad Hoc Plea Bargaining; Tulane Law Review, Vol 75 pp.23.
John S, Maureen S, (2007), Evidence; oxford; oxford university press.
Ralph Adam, (1987), Escape of the Guilty; New York, Dody & Mead.
George F, (2003), Plea Bargaining Triumph; Stanford, Stanford University Press.
Albert p, Allan , (2008), The American Legal System; New York, Rowrman and littlefield.