Plea bargaining or plea deal is an arrangement in a criminal case between the offender and the prosecutor whereby the offender comes into an agreement to plead guilty to certain charges leveled against him/her in return for some concession from the prosecutor. In other words, this means that the defendant pleads guilty to one of the several charges or to the less serious charges, as a result of dismissal of other charges by the prosecutor. The charges that are normally dropped are those of more lenient sentences. (Sales 46)
Plea bargaining is very common in the criminal justice system because it allows both parties of the case to evade a lengthy criminal trial, which means not having to prosecute the case - a situation that can save a lot of time and resources. Another reason is that plea bargaining actually allows the criminal defendant to avoid the danger of conviction on a more serious charge and reduce the imprisonment term. Lastly, plea bargaining reduces the sentence; this is because in most cases the prosecutor lessens the sentence instead of lowering the charges. Plea bargaining is preferred by many since it drops the stigma that is normally associated with a certain offense such as rape, which is often dropped as an assault, which is a less stigmatizing offense. (Sales 67)
It should also be noted that plea bargaining has a number of practical benefits; in fact, it actually saves the court, prosecution and the defendant a lot of time and lowers the expenses on going to trial. In addition, plea bargaining is an administrative necessity, since without it the courts would otherwise be flooded, a situation that would actually reduce the efficiency of the justice system. It also allows the justice personnel to personalize sentences, hence making them less severe. (Sales 89)
On the other side, plea bargaining often appears to be unfair because of defendants forfeiting some of their rights such as right to trial by the jury. In addition, it allows the defendants to defeat the justice, thus weakening the public respect and confidence for the criminal justice process.
Criminal Justice System (courts)
The most important part of the criminal justice system that requires reforms is the court system. This is because the American court system has proved to be inefficient for the American citizens. Any judge, defense counsel or police officer, when faced with a prospect of discussing this issue in depth, would undoubtedly have a long list of areas which require urgent reform (Nagel 34).
Indeed, the court system is in a dire need of reforms because it has a high number of consequential cases expecting appeal that touches on subjects from illegal immigration to healthcare reforms. In addition, this court system draws much less attention to over 30 million civil courts cases that are filed every year over everyday issues such as tickets, divorce, traffic and personal injury. The court system is also often accused of being slow and more expensive. In addition, the court system has done very little in promoting legal education to the general public, a situation that has created a legal knowledge gap between the public and the system. (Nagel 54)
The reforms that need to be established in the court system of the country should aim at creating a legal system that ensures that all accused persons are well represented and at establishing a judge driven case management system that is computerized, efficient and transparent. The system also needs to roll out an educational program to enlighten the public on how their legal system really works. (Nagel 73)
Another area that needs to be reformed is delay in the court system. This includes months of adjournment with no clear reason, double or triple booked defense counsel, delays when waiting for processing of legal aids, delays when writing judgments and rulings. Delays can be eliminated through establishment of an independent court recording in every proceeding. This will actually plays a great role in enhancing competency, transparency and accountability in the court system. (Nagel 87)