A plea bargain is an agreement in a criminal case whereby the prosecutor offers the defendant the opportunity to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge or to the original criminal charge with a recommendation of a lighter than the maximum sentence.
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- [T]he process of plea bargaining is not one which any student of the subject regards as an ornament to our system of justice.
- William H. Rehnquist, quoted in Peterson, A Bad Bargain, Trial, pp. 16
- In a system where ninety percent or more of cases end in a negotiated disposition, it is unclear why the "discounted" punishment imposed in that ninety percent of cases should not rather be considered the norm. Where almost no one pays the "manufacturer's suggested retail price," and almost everyone buys the item at a "discounted" price, no one really gets a "bargain," and the product's real price is what is actually charged in the marketplace.
- Gerard E. Lynch (5 April 2003), Screening versus Plea Bargaining: Exactly What Are We Trading Off?, 55, Stanford Law Review
- [W]e cannot hold that it is unconstitutional for the State to extend a benefit to a defendant who, in turn, extends a substantial benefit to the State and who demonstrates by his plea that he is ready and willing to admit 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.
- Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742 (1970)