• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What Impact will Formalising Plea Bargaining have on Justice and Equality in the English Legal System?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What Impact will Formalising Plea Bargaining have on Justice and Equality in the English Legal System? Before discussing plea bargaining it is perhaps paramount to define what is meant by the expression. Plea bargaining refers to 'the exchange of a guilty plea for a reduced charge or some hope of a reduced sentence.'1 In other words it is an agreement between the prosecution and the defence by which the accused changes his plea from not guilty to guilty in return for an offer by the prosecution or when the judge has informally let it be known that he will minimize the sentence if the accused pleads guilty. This essay will examine the history of plea bargaining in the English legal system, the current situation, compare our system to that in the United States of America and consider the impact of a formal system of plea bargaining on our legal system, justice and equality. Before the twentieth century, the vast majority of criminal cases in Anglo-American jurisdictions were disposed of by jury rather than by guilty plea. Guilty pleas were considered ill-advised, and empirical studies focusing on particular jurisdictions indicate that guilty pleas and plea bargaining in both the United States and the United Kingdom were relatively rare until the latter half of the nineteenth century.2 During the course of the eighteenth century, English criminal procedure underwent a transformation from a predominately non-adversarial system to an identifiably adversarial one. The introduction of these adversarial features, while providing necessary safeguards for defendants' rights, at the same time greatly lengthened and complicated the previous summary jury proceedings. With more issues of law raised, more expert witnesses testifying, and more cross-examination, jury trials became time-consuming, complex events dominated by professional advocates. As trials became more complex, the lawyers who were beginning to dominate them developed a more practical alternative for case disposition and that alternative was plea bargaining.3 Although the adversary system originated in England, English procedures are now considerably less adversarial than American procedures, that is, English procedures are simpler, straightforward and more efficient. ...read more.

Middle

The Government did not follow the recommendations made by the Royal Commission but did introduce section 48 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, now section 152 of the consolidating Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000, as discussed previously. As a result, Lord Justice Auld was asked by the Lord Chancellor to review the criminal courts in England and Wales.13 One of the areas he was required to reassess was whether a formal discounting system of early pleas should be introduced and whether or not plea bargaining should be permitted.14 Lord Justice Auld believed that advance indication of sentence would benefit defendants and witnesses alike. He proposed a system of graduated discounts where the defendant would be given a greater reduction for an earlier plea. Safeguards would be introduced to ensure that a defendant was not put under any pressure and did not plead guilty without legal advice. The idea of lower sentences for guilty pleas has been criticised by Professor Andrew Ashworth of Oxford University.15 He and other academics say it gives defendants a benefit they do not deserve, because a plea of guilty does not reduce the offender's culpability or need for imprisonment. It must also be contrary to the presumption of innocence to impose a heavier penalty on a defendant who requires the prosecution to establish his guilt, they say. Worst of all, perhaps, the incentive may put pressure on a defendant who expects he will be convicted anyway to admit a crime he has not committed. No discount is given for a plea of guilty in Scotland, where it would be regarded as an improper inducement. If a formalised system of plea bargaining was introduced into the English legal system it would ultimately lead to overcharging by the police and prosecution. It is all too easy for police and prosecution to overload the defendants' charge sheet to pressurise defendants to plead guilty to some charges in return for the excess charges to be dropped. ...read more.

Conclusion

If plea bargaining was formalised in the English legal system it would mean that more innocent victims are convicted and faith in the system would be lost. 1 Darbyshire, P. 'The Mischief of Plea Bargaining and Sentencing Rewards' (2000) Criminal Law Review Pages 895 - 910 2 Baldwin, J. & McConville, M. (1977) Negotiated Justice, Martin Robertson & Company Ltd pp.1-14 3 Zander, M. 'Plea Bargaining Goes Back a Hundred Years' (1998) New Law Journal Page 323 4 McCabe, S. & Purves, R. (1972) By-passing the Jury, Blackwell 5 Baldwin, J. & McConville, M. (1977) Negotiated Justice, Martin Robertson & Company 6 [1970] 2 Q.B. 321 7 Op. Cit. p.2 8 Op. Cit. p.2 9 The Times, 5 February 1999 10 The Times, 5 February 1999, at Judgement 1 (Rose LJ) 11 Baldwin, J. & McConville, M. (1977) Negotiated Justice, Martin Robertson & Company Ltd p.19 12 Report of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice ('RCCJ') (1993, chair Lord Runciman) 13 A Review of the Criminal Courts of England and Wales by the Right Honourable Lord Justice Auld, September 2001 14 Paras 91 - 114 15 Ashworth A, Genders E, Mansfield G, Peay J & Player E, Sentencing in the Crown Court (Occasional Paper no 10) (Oxford Centre for Criminological Research, 1984) Ashworth, A. 'Plea, Venue and Discontinuance' [1993] Criminal Law Review p 830 16 Bridges, L. 'Normalizing Injustice: The Royal Commission on Criminal Justice' (1994) Journal of Law and Society p.20-37 at 35 17 Derbyshire, P. 'The Mischief of Plea Bargaining' [2000] Criminal Law Review p. 895-910 at 901 18 Conclusion made after reading research compiled in: Gordon, P. & Shallice, A. Black People, White Justice? Race and the Criminal Justice System (1992) The Runneymede Trust, Page 17 19 Young, R. & Sanders, A 'Plea Bargaining and the next Criminal Justice Bill' (1994) New Law Journal vol.144 p.1200 20 Morton, J. 'Why not allow Plea Bargains but make them Public?' (2000) New Law Journal vol.150 p.928 21 Zander, M. 'Making a Pact with the Devil' The Guardian, October 30 2000 ?? ?? ?? ?? 83990 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Machinery of Justice section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Machinery of Justice essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Briefly outline the various sentencing options available to the courts for both over and ...

    4 star(s)

    * Disqualification order - an offender may be disqualified from holding a driving license for driving-related offenses. For some strict liability offenses, disqualification is compulsory and the court has no discretion. * Financial reporting order - regular reports on the offender's financial status will be made and given to the courts.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    ‘Trial by jury is outdated, expensive and ineffective in ensuring justice’ Analyse arguments for ...

    4 star(s)

    The claims of Lord Devlin in the 1970's that juries were primarily made up of white, middle-aged men from middle-class backgrounds was absolutely justified, as at the time, the majority of people registered to vote were exactly that. Research believes that up to twenty percent of black and Asian people

  1. Critically analyse the relationship between law and justice.

    numbers cases, R v Ward, Stephen Kiszko where, in all of these cases, the police fabricated evidence and false confessions were obtained as a result of duress.

  2. Critically evaluate the aims and consequences of sentencing and show how the laws regarding ...

    However deterrence and exemplary sentencing can work in certain circumstances. It was stated in Attorney General v CCC (2001) by Mantell LJ "in all classes of sexual offences, there will also be the need to deter others from acting in a similar fashion" There are very few decisions from the Court of Appeal on sentencing.

  1. International Institutions and Human Rights. The three international institutions and their impact on ...

    (http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-universal-declaration-of-human-rights.htm) The European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is a treaty signed in 1950 by the then members of the Council of Europe. In this way, it predates the European Communities and Union and arises from a quite different organisation.

  2. Free essay

    Critically discuss whether the criminal courts of England and Wales require substantial reform. Firstly ...

    In other words if there is a doubt in the minds of any of the Magistrates or Jury in the crown court the defendant must be found not guilty. However, they can only be punished if they are found guilty and once this has happened then he/she is a criminal.

  1. The European Court of Justice ensures that European law is applied throughout the member ...

    It also has the ability to allow member states to make their views on as issue known. It is therefore better placed than a national court to decide issues of interpretation.

  2. I will look at different black theologies and different theories of justice, and attempt ...

    Instead this is a somewhat defence and protective strategy: in the case of justice, Rawls thinks this is in the form of distribution favouring the poor. There is an in-built concern for those worse off than oneself. Moreover, there is an in-built moral obligation to consider carefully the plight of

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work