Report No. 142
3.13. The Supreme Court also found that the award of lesser punishment pursuant to please bargain is not invalid.-
"Although the fact that the prevalence of guilty pleas as the basis of convictions is explainable because of the mutuality of advantage to the defendant and the State does not necessarily validate such pleas nor the system which produces them, nevertheless it is not unconstitutional for the State to extend the benefit of a lesser penalty than after trial to a defendant who in turn extends a substantial benefit to the State and who demonstrates by his Crime and to enter the correctional system in a frame of mind that affords hope for success in rehabilitation over a shorter period of time than might otherwise be necessary." (p. 751, para. 14.)
The Supreme Court further observed:
"This is not to say that guilty plea convictions hold no hazards for the innocent or that the methods of taking guilty pleas presently employed in this country we necessarily valid in all aspects, his mode of conviction is no fool-proof than full trials to the court or to the jury. Accordingly, we take great precautions against unsound results, and we should continue to do so, whether conviction is by plea or by trial." (p. 761, para 24).
3.14. Validity of plea bargaining was also upheld by the United States Supreme Court in Santobello v. New York 404 US 257 (1971), Chief Justice Burger, who delivered the opinion of the Court, observed at pp. 261-262:
"Disposition of charges after plea discussions is not only an essential part of the process but a highly desirable part for many reasons. It leads to prompt and largely final disposition of most criminal cases; it avoids much of the corrosive impact of enforced idleness during pre-trial confinement for those who are denied release pending trial; it protects the public from those accused persons who are prone to continue criminal conduct even while on pre-trial release; and by shortening the time between charge and disposition, it enhances whatever may be the rehabilitative prospects of the guilty when they are ultimately imprisoned."
Of course the court highlighted the need for precautions by pointing out that:-
"However, all of these considerations presuppose fairness in securing agreement between an accused and a prosecutor. It is now clear, for example, that the accused pleading guilty must be counselled, absent a waiver. Moore v. Michigan, 335 US 155 (1957). Fed. Rule Crim. Proc. 11, governing pleas in federal courts, now makes clear that the sentencing Judge must develop, on the record, the factual basis for the plea as for example, by having the accused describe the conduct that gave rise to the charge.
The plea must, of course, be voluntary and knowing and if it was induced by promises, the essence of those promises must in some way be made known. There is, of course, no absolute right to have a guilty plea accepted. Lynch v. Over holser, 369 US 705 (719): (1962) Fed. Rule Crim. Proc. 11. A court may reject a plea in exercise of sound judicial discretion.
This phase of the process of criminal justice, and the adjudicative element inherent in accepting a plea of guilt, must be attended by safeguards to insure the defendant what is reasonably due in the circumstances. Those circumstances will vary, but a constant factor is that when a plea rests in any significant degree on a promise or agreement of the prosecutor, so that it can be said to be part of the inducement or consideration, such promise must be fulfilled."
In concurrent judgment Mr. Justice Douglas observed: (p. 257)
"these plea-bargains are important in the administration of justice both at the State and at the Federal levels and, as the Chief Justice says, they served an important role in the disposition of today's heavy calendars."
3.15. The United States Supreme Court has reiterated the view, in the following cases that, when properly administered, "plea-bargaining" is a proper method for administering justice:
(i) In Hutto v. Rossi 50 L Ed 2d 876 (878) the Supreme Court observed, inter alia,-
"If every criminal charge were subjected to a full scale trial, the States and the Federal Government would need to multiply by many times the number of judges and court facilitised. Disposition of criminal charges after plea discussions or plea-bargaining is not only an essential part of the criminal process but a highly desirable part."
(ii) In Chaffin v Stynchcombel (1973) 412 US 17, the Supreme Court reiterated its earlier view in Santobello case that the legitimacy of the practice of "plea-bargaining" cannot be doubted and where properly administered, it is to be encouraged as an essential and desirable component of the administration of justice.
(iii) In Blackledge v. Allison, 52 L Ed 2d 136, the Supreme Court noted that it was only recently that "plea-bargaining" had become visible practice accepted as a legitimate component of the administration of criminal justice and that it was not until the decision in Santobello that lingering doubts about the legitimacy of the practice were dispelled.
(iv) Weatherford v. Bursey. (1977) 429 US 545 -The same views were reiterated by the Supreme Court in this case.
3.16. In Newton v. Rumery 94 L Ed 2d 405, Justice Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court observed (at page 426):
"The net result of every plea bargain is an admission of wrongdoing by the defendant and the imposition of the criminal sanction with its attendant stigma. Although there may be some cases in which an innocent person pleads guilty to a minor offence to avoid risk of conviction of a more serious charge, it is reasonable to presume that such cases are rare and represent the exception rather than the rule the plea bargain represents a practical compromise between the prosecutor and the defendant that takes into account the burdens of litigation and its probable outcome as well as society's interest in imposing appropriate punishment upon an admitted wrongdoer.
The dependent admits wrongdoing for conduct upon which the guilty plea is based and avoids further prosecution; the prosecutor need not go to trial; and an admitted wrongdoer is punished all under close judicial supervision. By simultaneously establishing and limiting defendant's criminal liability, plea bargains delicately balance individual and social advantage."