In criminal law, plea bargaining may be defined as the practice of making a particular legal agreement between the defense and the prosecution. According to it, the defendant may plead guilty to all or some charges in exchange for the prosecutor’s concessions (Pollock, 2018). The majority of experts agree that the practice of plea bargaining is effective and probably inevitable, especially if the system’s goals are bureaucratic efficiency and crime control. Thus, plea bargaining is ethically justified by its way to “reduce the number of cases going to trial” (Pollock, 2018, p. 274). The expediency of this practice is supported by multiple arguments, including limited resources, heavy caseloads, legislative over-criminalization, cases’ legal problems, appropriate amount of punishment, and the individualized justice. In general, plea bargaining may be supported by the theory of utilitarianism. According to it, the defendant’s agreement to plead guilty may be regarded as utility or the most reasonable solution that will not cause additional challenges for the system in the future.
In turn, plea bargaining may be ethically incorrect for a system that aims to protect human rights and due process. In addition, an ethical justification for not having plea bargaining is determined by the unethical practices of the prosecutor sometimes used for this agreement, including overcharging and the engagement in fraud, false promises, and misrepresentation of conditions (Pollock, 2018). Not having plea bargaining is supported by the coercion theory as coercion implies the threatening and enervation of the defendant prior to the trial in order to weaken his ability to defend.
It goes without saying that to choose only one ethical system for control over all correction systems is almost impossible. However, if it was necessary, I would choose utilitarianism as it refers to the prevention of crimes through deterrence, treatment, and incapacitation for social wellbeing. In the present day, prisons are overcrowded as punishment are frequently viewed as retribution (Pollock, 2018). However, I believe that the use of the utilitarian system exclusively will help prevent future crimes if incapacitation is regarded as the only one option for social stability. At the same time, the system of utilitarianism presupposes treatment as an ethical choice if it has an equal utility for society in comparison with punishment.
Pollock, J. M. (2018). Ethical dilemmas and decisions in criminal justice (10th ed.). Cengage Learning US.