Plea Bargaining and Getting at the Truth

Richard L. Lippke

in The Ethics of Plea Bargaining

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199641468
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191732195 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Monographs on Criminal Law and Justice

Plea Bargaining and Getting at the Truth

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The chapter focuses on the merits of plea bargaining as a mechanism for discerning the truth of the criminal charges against individuals. Unconstrained forms of plea bargaining are not reliably truth-discerning. Full-blown adversary trials may not perform much better, though there is some reason to believe that British trials are superior to American ones in this respect. Settlement hearings, at which those charged with crimes are encouraged and indeed expected to admit their guilt, offer us greater assurance that when we punish we do so justifiably. Even improved adversary trials are unlikely to provide comparable assurance. Importantly, European countries whose inquisitorial legal systems are more truth-focused have adopted limited forms of plea bargaining. This suggests that, if properly structured and constrained, the informal resolution of criminal charges can be made to serve the goal of getting at the truth.

Keywords: plea bargaining; truth; trial adjudication; waiver rewards; adversary trials; inquisitional trials

Chapter.  12759 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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