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What are plea deals, why do DAs offer them and are they ethical?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2019 | Appeals |

Plea bargains are much more common than you might think, accounting for 90 percent of the outcomes of all criminal cases in America. Many countries do not allow them as they consider them unethical and immoral, but as the numbers indicate, America favors them over all other settlement methods. If you are like many people in Oregon, you may wish to better understand what plea bargains are, why DAs use them and who they benefit. FindLaw details that information in depth.

Though there are several different types of plea agreements, they are, in a nutshell, agreements in which the prosecutor and defendant agree that the defendant will acknowledge guilt in exchange for a lesser sentence or reduced charge. Plea agreements are less about obtaining justice and more about acknowledging a case’s strengths and weaknesses. Courts do not mind plea agreements as allowing them means the respective parties can work out the issue themselves. This equates to fewer costs for the courts.

Many people wonder who is best served by plea agreements: the courts, the prosecutors or defendants? Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to that question, but several justifications exist to encourage the courts to continue to allow them. The primary justifications for plea bargains are as follows:

  •       Plea agreements free up prosecutors’ time, which means they have more time to spend on effectively prosecuting more serious cases.
  •       Plea bargains keep courts from becoming overcrowded and shutting down.
  •       Plea agreements help defendants who do not have the time nor the money to defend themselves in court.

You may notice that plea bargains do not really offer many benefits to the population at large, and nor do they help to achieve real justice. For this reason alone, many legal professionals have, and will continue to, challenge America’s plea bargain system.

The material in this post is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as legal advice.