As long as the sentencing guidelines are not set artificially high as a way to incentivize plea bargaining, I don't see the problem with a prosecutor beating able to bring or threaten the charge at any time. If the guidelines are artificially high, I think it goes against the prosecutor's ethical duty to threaten it for the purpose of leverage in plea bargaining.
Efficiency is one reason for plea bargaining, but I think it is a secondary reason. The primary reason is that defendants who plead guilty have accepted that they made a mistake, which makes them less likely to repeat criminal activity. They are less culpable and more rehabilitated so they do not need to be and should not be in prison as long.
I really liked Peters idea that the prosecutor maybe should be doing their job in the justice structure. On the other hand, if the goal of judicial economy is to be able to charge as many people as possible then maybe allowing plea bargaining makes sense in order to be able to move on to the next case.
@Blackeye that's an interesting proposition. Do you actually think it's rehabilitative to do it that way or would admitting guilt before a judge/jury in order to have leniency in sentencing do more for the defendant?
@Andromeda, I agree that the guidelines are often too high. But I don't know why you assume that a high rate a plea leads to the conclusion that many of them are innocent. Maybe you are right, but I don't know how we would know that.
@razwan, i might think that i wouldnt accept it too. but then you watching something like the central park 5 documentary and see how prosecutors can threaten you with fake evidence and make accused co-conspirators seem like they're flipping against you...and you might plea
I'm not sure I'd say either efficiency or owning a mistake are secondary to each other in terms of high-level concerns. But I don't think the majority of people plead guilty to own their mistakes, but to avoid ridiculous sentences and on the advice of bad lawyers
I think an additional consideration, mentioned in the Bordenkircher dissent, is the prosecutor's motive for offering a plea deal. If the prosecutor is simply trying to punish the defendant for exercising their right to a jury trial, that presents a different situation than the prosecutor trying to find an outcome that best serves the public interest. But as in the Batson line of cases, discerning the prosecutor's motive can be challenging.
i cant help but think of the tragic story of Khalief Browder, who was falsely accused of stealing a backpack and arrested. he refused to take the plea bargain because he was innocent, and as a result ended up on Rikers island for years-- where he was put in solitary and beaten. and when he was finally release, he ended up committing suicide because of the lasting emotional trauma of his experience
I also worked at a capital punishment office-- we had a client who has now been proven innocent. But all the way leading up to trial the prosecutor kept offering plea bargain in exchange for taking death sentence off the table-- basically to coerce a guilty verdict.
No, I think that there are always some mistakes. Just like how trials sometimes make the wrong decision and condemn innocent people to death. But those are outliers. If you believe the whole system doesn't work on a regular basis, then none of this matters (which maybe you believe, and if a legit perspective)