Plea negotiations: An empirical analysis

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Across Australian criminal jurisdictions, the most frequent method of case finalisation is not a contested trial, but rather by an accused entering a plea of guilty. In this context, negotiated guilty pleas, commonly referred to as ‘plea bargaining’, ‘plea negotiations’, ‘settlements’ and ‘early resolutions’, have taken on a more prominent and significant role in the delivery of modern day justice. Negotiated guilty pleas are the result of an agreement reached between the prosecutor and the accused (usually through their legal representative) that may involve—among other outcomes— alterations to the charges (number, severity and structure), an agreement as to the case facts to be put before the court, and/or an agreement on the Crown’s sentencing submission, in exchange for the accused forgoing their right to a contested trial and entering a guilty plea. These agreements are justified on the grounds of court efficiency and reducing court backlogs through the speedier resolution of cases, while still ensuring that the public interest is served through a timely conviction—albeit this conviction may not reflect the full extent or severity of the offending conduct.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalTrends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice
Issue number544
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018

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