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Plea Bargains and Mandatory Sentencing

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Plea Bargains and Mandatory Sentencing

I would like to take this time to explain my position on Plea Bargains and Mandatory Sentencing. I will show both pros and cons for each topic, as well as give you my personal brief on which one I support.

There are two types of plea bargains : The first one is a charge bargain. When the prosecutor allows a defendant to "plead guilty to a lesser charge", or to only some of the charges that have been filed against him. For example, a defendant charged with burglary may be offered the opportunity to plead guilty to "attempted burglary". A defendant charged with Drunk Driving and Driving with License Suspended may be offered the opportunity to plead guilty to just the drunk driving charge. The second plea bargain is when a defendant is told in advance what his sentence will be if he pleads guilty. This can help a prosecutor obtain a conviction if, for example, a defendant is facing serious charges and is afraid of being hit with the "maximum" sentence. Typically, sentence bargains can only be granted if they are approved by the trial judge. Many jurisdictions severely limit sentence bargaining.

Sentence bargaining sometimes occurs in high profile cases where the prosecutor does not want to reduce the charges against the defendant, usually for fear of how the newspapers will react. A sentence bargain may allow the prosecutor to obtain a conviction to the most serious charge, while assuring the defendant of an acceptable sentence. I agree that we as a society should accept charge bargains to get more information out of a suspect. I do not agree that we should offer someone a sentence bargain. If the individual committed the crime then he/she should have to do the time. So, when Justice Stewart wrote in Blackledge v. Allison that plea bargaining "can benefit all concerned", I think that is only partly correct. Sure it benefits defendants, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges, but what about the victims or their families. I like what District Attorney Gibbons was trying to do, if it was all or none with no exceptions. The only time that I feel that plea bargains should not be used is in any murder or rape charge.

The second thing we must look at is mandatory sentencing. I agree that we should have mandatory sentencing. You can read different studies that it does not



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