Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Prosecutor's Office Eliminates Plea Bargains

A local prosecutor's office has delcared that they will no longer do plea bargains and will instead simply charge defendants with the appropriate crimes. While I applaud the notion of actually charging defendants with the appropiate offenses rather than overcharging to force them to give up their rights and plead guilty to a "lesser" (but usually not really lessor since the "greater" charge probably could not have been proven in court) charge, I don't see how it can work in practice.

As the commenters and the blog author point out, the system would collapse if not for pleas. As it is, about 3% of cases actually go to trial. And even that can overload the system. Having 33 times as many trials would implode the courts, leaving a smoking crater.

Now, the solution to that would be to both charge appropriately, and then offer plea bargains to actually lesser crimes rather than overcharging. But of course, once you do that, then I think things would creep back up to overcharging again. Because prosecutors have way too much power. Grand juries were supposed to be a check on that power, but as it is, they are mostly a joke, as I've discussed before. Oh well. I can dream.

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