Chapter

Contours of Early Plea Bargaining

Mary E. Vogel

in Coercion to Compromise

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780195101751
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199851461 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195101751.003.0004

Series: Oxford Socio-Legal Studies

Contours of Early Plea Bargaining

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This chapter examines the early patterns of plea bargaining and concessions in Massachusetts. Based on the definition of plea bargaining as the entry of a guilty plea in anticipation of concessions, it explores the movement in guilty plea rates and shifts in disposition and sentencing, with respect to plea over time to determine change in the contours of plea bargaining. The chapter analyzes guilty plea rates and concessions using the cases randomly sampled from the Boston docket, for each decade from 1830 through 1920. It suggests that that entry of guilty pleas and leniency attending such a plea are the two building blocks that analytically comprise plea bargaining, and concludes that whilst plea bargaining existed by the 1830s, by 1860 it had been solidly established and institutionalized.

Keywords: plea bargaining; concessions; Massachusetts; guilty plea; Boston docket

Chapter.  13967 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Law

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