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Report No. 142

3.11. U.S. Supreme Court upholds constitutionality and recognises the value of plea-bargaining.-

It would, perhaps, be appropriate to refer to two leading cases of the American Supreme Court sustaining the constitutional validity and also the important role the concept of "plea-bargaining" plays in the disposition of criminal cases. The constitutional validity of "plea-bargaining" has been upheld by the United States Supreme Court in Brady v. United States 297 US 742: 25 L Ed 2d 747, Justice White, who delivered the opinion of the Court, observed:

"The issue we deal with is inherent in the criminal law and its administration because guilty pleas are not constitutionally forbidden, because the criminal law characteristically extends to judge or jury a range of choice in setting the sentence in individual cases, and because both the State and the defendant often find it advantageous to preclude the possibility of the maximum penalty authorised by law.

For a defendant who sees slight possibility of acquittal, the advantage of pleading guilty and limiting the probable penalty are obvious-his exposure is reduced, the correctional process can begin immediately, and the practical burdens of a trial are eliminated. For the State there are also advantages-the more promptly imposed punishment after an admission of guilt may more effectively attain the objectives of punishment; and with the avoidance of trial, scarce resources are conserved for those cases in which there is a substantial issue of the defendant's guilt or in which there is substantial doubt that the State can sustain its burden of proof.

It is this mutuality of advantage that perhaps explains the fact that at present well over three-fourths of the criminal convictions in this country rest on the pleas of guilty, a great many of them no doubt motivated at least in part by the hope or assurance of a lesser penalty then might be imposed if there were a guilty verdict after a trial to judge or jury." (25 L Ed 2d 758).

[Emphasis added]

Concessional Treatment for Offenders who on their own initiative choose to plead guilty without any bargaining Back

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