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In this unit, we discussed the plea-bargaining process and how defendants sometimes accept a plea bargain to receive less time in prison. Do you think that the person who has been victimized by the defendant should have a say on whether or not the defendant is offered a plea deal?  Explain your reasoning.



This is such a great question.  I can appreciate the thought process of answering this question as someone who works in a solo practice law firm that handles criminal defense (amongst other practice areas).  I can actually see both sides of this argument; however, working in a law firm, the only reason that someone is offered a plea deal is two-fold:  one, the prosecution believes it cannot prove the original charge beyond a reasonable doubt and, two, often at later stages, the evidence and testimony is so overwhelming on the original charge that the Defendant (as stated in the Professor’s question) pleas out to avoid a longer prison sentence.  

So, believe me, I know the overt feeling of grief experienced by victims sometimes – whether it’s a white-collar crime such as financial card transaction theft, a blue-collar crime such as burglary, or a capital crime such as rape.  However, I don’t believe that the victim should play a role in whether the defendant receives a plea deal.  Now, granted, the victim should be informed of the potential plea agreement and why but not whether the prosecution offers one or not.  Nonetheless, this is different from sentencing.  Should the victim be taken into consideration when a jury has found the defendant guilty?  Absolutely.  The weight of the victim’s statement should reflect in how long the Defendant sits in prison to reflect upon his (or her) crime.  

With the prevalence of victim advocate services, it is comforting to know that victims of all crimes are well-represented through all stages of the criminal justice process against the Defendant. 

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