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Plea Bargaining, Economics Of

A plea bargain is a voluntary exchange of concessions in which a defendant waives his right to a full criminal trial in return for the prosecutor's guarantee of a lesser sentence than would be expected after a conviction at trial. In adversarial systems, plea bargaining is made possible by the law's allocation of valuable, tradableassets to both sides. The defendant has a right to accept conviction by pleading guilty and thus to abort a full trial, and the prosecutor has discretion over the precise charges lodged against the defendant, which enables the prosecutor to specify, within statutory limits, the sentence imposed after a conviction, however it is obtained. Advocates argue that plea bargaining is made necessary by the uncertainty and high resource costs of adversarial ...

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