A plea is an agreement reached by the prosecution and defense in a criminal case in which the defendant admits guilt rather than pursuing a trial in exchange for a reduction in charges (charge bargaining) or a recommendation for a lesser sentence (sentence bargaining). Many scholars believe that pleas originated as a means to deal with burgeoning caseloads in the 19th and 20th centuries in order to increase efficiency. However, there is evidence to suggest that this is not the case. Rather, plea practices appear in isolated examples in the ...

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