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Concept of Plea Bargaining in the United States of America: A Brief Analysis


The concept of Plea Bargaining (‘PB’) existed right since the 19th century. However, recently it has gained more popularity all over the world. Since the criminal cases have been increasing, the legislatures had to come up with a solution that could lessen the burden of the court and make sure that justice is served quickly. 

The PB in the United States plays a very significant role in their Criminal Justice System. Their majority of criminal cases are settled through PB (over 97%), saving the court time. However, the rules are different in all states of the US. Making PB a salient feature has helped the Judiciary dispose of the criminal cases and has prevented them from causing a blockage.   

Criticism of Plea Bargaining in the US

Without question, the United States remains the global pioneer in plea bargaining: 97 per cent of prosecutions are settled by a guilty plea, a figure that has been constant over the last two decades. Given the vast scope of criminal trials in the United States, where almost 12 million individuals are sentenced to prison per year, the United States unquestionably administers more trial exemptions than any other nation.

The disappearance of hearings jeopardises convicted suspects’ opportunity to get their criminal cases resolved reasonably and accurately. In the United States, there is already increasing awareness of the issues around plea negotiation.

The growing emphasis on plea bargaining erodes the court system’s integrity since guilty admissions will persuade innocent citizens to confess to offences they didn’t commit. It also provides perverse benefits for all scheme participants by reducing accountability and openness in detention, prosecution, proof gathering, and sentencing procedures.


The Supreme Court in Boykin v. Alabama overturned the prosecution of a man who had earned five death penalties despite pleading guilty to five burglary charges because the trial judge had not ensured that the guilty pleas were voluntary. Judges were also questioning suspects in court to verify their guilty pleas are voluntary.


The Supreme Court in Brady v. the United States stated that it is reasonable to compensate suspects – who plead guilty – with diminished sentences and that defendants can plead guilty without acknowledging culpability. This ensures that they may find a plea bargain even though they believe they are factually innocent (Carolina v. Alford). In a fourth plea bargaining dispute, the Supreme Court in Santobello v. New York 1971 stated that prisoners are entitled to civil recourse if lawyers violate plea bargaining terms. In Bordenkircher v. Hayes, the Supreme Court ruled in 1978 that prosecutors can attempt to bring additional charges against suspects who fail to settle if the charges are accurate.



It is often believed that justice delay is justice denied. A suffered person must get justice without any delays, but that does not mean the accused has to suffer for it. Plea Bargaining can and should be followed without violating the rights of the accused. 

Together, the five cases demonstrate the Court’s belief that plea bargains are permissible and should be recognised as valid settlements. Indeed, the Court in Santobello went so far as to say that plea negotiation is “not just a necessary aspect of the procedure, but indeed a highly beneficial component for several reasons.” Plea bargaining became a well-established and well-protected practice as a result.

The US has been pushing many cases under Plea Bargaining and ensuring to provide a fair trial to the accused whenever needed. 


This Article Does Not Intend To Hurt The Sentiments Of Any Individual Community, Sect, Or Religion Etcetera. This Article Is Based Purely On The Authors Personal Views And Opinions In The Exercise Of The Fundamental Right Guaranteed Under Article 19(1)(A) And Other Related Laws Being Force In India, For The Time Being. Further, despite all efforts made to ensure the accuracy and correctness of the information published, White Code VIA Mediation and Arbitration Centre shall not be responsible for any errors caused due to human error or otherwise.


  • This article highlights the importance of Plea Bargaining in US
  • This article also highlights the criticism
  • This article also highlights how far has the SC accepted this concept in US


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