Plea bargaining is a pretrial negotiation between the accused and the prosecution where the accused agrees to plead guilty in exchange for certain concessions by the prosecution. It is a bargain where a defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge and the prosecutors in return drop more serious charges. It is not available for all types of crime e.g. a person cannot claim plea bargaining after committing heinous crimes or for CSCCScrimes which are punishable with death or life imprisonment.

Plea Bargaining in India

Plea Bargaining is not an indigenous concept of the Indian legal system. It is a part of the recent development of Indian Criminal Justice System (ICJS). It was inculcated in Indian Criminal Justice System after considering the burden of long-standing cases on the Judiciary


History of Plea Bargaining

The rise of plea bargaining is usually traced to the nineteenth century, but it actually dates back hundreds of years to the adoption of confession law and has most certainly persisted for over eight centuries. Shortly after the Civil War, there was an explosion of plea deal litigation at the appellate level in the United States. Various courts summarily dismissed these bargains and allowed the accused to retract their confessions, citing previous confession precedents barring the provision of incentives in exchange for admissions of guilt.

However, these early American appellate rulings did not preclude American courts from taking a plea-bargaining approach. Although collusion held plea bargaining alive in the late 19th and early 20th century, over-criminalization necessitated its incorporation into standard criminal practice and eventual domination. Between 1908 and 1916, the percentage of federal sentences arising from guilty pleas increased from 50% to 72%. Despite the fact that plea bargaining rates increased dramatically in the early twentieth century, appellate courts were still wary of approving such agreements as they were challenged.

The adversarial system’s complexity rendered obtaining a verdict in a court case a difficult process, resulting in unjustified delays. The phenomenon of plea dealing arose as a result of the dysfunctional legal system and the inconsistencies of court trials.[6] Plea bargaining not only brought a breath of satisfaction to the accused who had been languishing in prison for years due to a lack of justice, but it also proved to be a time and cost-efficient means for the court system to easily resolve felony trials.

In the United States, plea bargaining, also known as arranged pleas, is used to secure an overwhelming pace of about 95 percent of felony convictions. Plea bargains account for about 92 percent of prosecutions in England and Wales. Just 14.3 percent of trials in British crown courts go on trial, with the rest opting for a plea bargain.

In 1970, the American Supreme Court affirmed the practice in Bradley V. United States. Certain common law and civil law jurisdictions are now following the procedure in various ways.

As previously mentioned, plea bargaining is a relatively recent phenomenon in India, having only been adopted in 2006. Later in the paper, a systematic review of the Indian style of plea bargaining will be discussed. Figure 1 represents a timeline of plea bargaining history.

Object Of Plea Bargaining

  • Incorporate the principle of plea bargaining into the criminal process;
  • Decrease the number of inmates on trial.
  • Make the victim of crimes compensated by the accused.
  • To minimize delays in criminal proceedings.

Drawbacks Of Plea Bargaining

  1. The right to a fair trial is challenged.
  2. The involvement of police in the course of plea negotiations will call for intimidation.
  3. The court is impartially contested by including the court in the Plea Bargaining process.
  4. Involving the victim in the course of plea bargaining will call for misconduct.
  5. The accused will face considerable difficulties in proving himself innocent if the accused’s pleading guilty applied in rejection.

Types Of Plea Bargains

Plea bargaining can mainly be classified into four types

  • Charge Bargaining
  • Sentence Bargaining
  • Facts Bargaining
  • Counts Bargaining

Charge Bargaining

This is the most well-known and popular form of plea bargaining. It requires a compromise on the charges or offenses that the defendants will face at trial. A judge can usually dismiss the higher or other charges counts in exchange for a guilty plea to a lesser charge. A criminal charged with robbery, for example, could be given the option of pleading guilty to attempted burglary. As a consequence, it’s simply a swap with compromises from both sides.

This kind of plea bargaining happens for getting less severe charges. This is the most common form of plea bargaining in criminal cases. Here the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge in consideration of dismissing greater charges.

Pleading for manslaughter for dropping the charges of murder.

Sentence Bargaining

A plea of guilty to the stated penalty rather than a lesser charge in exchange for a shorter sentence is known as sentence bargaining. It reminds the defense of the need to go to trial to make the point. It allows the convict to get a more lenient sentence. It is a procedure that was initiated in India, in which the accused, with the consent of the judge and the defendant or claimant, bargains for a lighter punishment than the offense warrants.

In this type of bargaining, the main motive is to get a lesser sentence. In Sentence bargaining, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to the stated charge, and in return, he bargains for a lighter sentence.

Facts Bargaining

This is the least common type of deal, in which the prosecution agrees to admit to certain facts, removing the requirement for the prosecutor to assert them, in exchange for a promise not to add certain other facts into court.

This is generally not used in courts because it is alleged to be against Criminal Justice System. It occurs when a defendant agrees to stipulate certain facts in order to prevent other facts from being introduced into evidence.

Counts Bargaining

The suspect pleads guilty to a subset of various initial offenses under this form of bargaining.

Features Of The Model Of Plea Bargaining In India

  • The convicted party must take the opportunity to transfer the judicial machinery for agreed pleas for only those offenses on which the cumulative sentence does not extend seven years.
  • The plea bargaining motion must be filed in the case where the crime is actually being charged. This is where the Indian scheme varies from the American scheme, in which the application is submitted together between the public prosecution and the accused after the parties have finished their talks.
  • If the court is pleased that the application was filed knowingly by the accused, the claimant, the accused, the public advocate, and the prosecuting officer, if the prosecution is one instituted on a police investigation, are given time to hammer out a mutually agreeable resolution of the case, which might include the accused giving up his or her rights.
  • The judge is not a bystander; he or she plays an important part in the proceedings. The court is in charge of ensuring that the whole operation is carried out with the accused’s absolute and unconditional consent. When a fair resolution of the case has been reached, the court is required to dismiss the case after granting restitution to the claimant in accordance with the settlement and hearing the parties on the matter of penalty quantum. It may then impose a fine, which can range from one-fourth to one-half of the maximum penalty for the offence.
  • The statute also requires that the verdict be rendered in open court. A provision in favor of the accused has been inserted, stating that the argument or evidence claimed by an accused in a plea bargaining application can not be used for any other reason.
  • In the case of plea bargaining, the Judge’s decision is binding, and there is no right to appeal to another court against it.
  • Section 265A states that plea bargaining is not available in cases where the sentence is more than seven years in jail and/or the crime has an effect on the country’s socio-economic situation (as determined by the Central Government) or has been committed against a woman or a child under the age of fourteen years. In addition, the procedure is only available to first-time criminals.






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