Law: Is Plea Bargaining a Cop-Out?

Critics say yes, but efforts to ban it bring mixed results

Ideally anyone charged with a crime in the U.S. is entitled to his day in court. The litany of rights is familiar: the state must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the accused has the right to be tried by a jury of his peers, and an impartial judge must carefully weigh the facts before handing down a sentence.

The reality, as anyone involved with criminal justice can attest to, is far different. In the vast majority of cases, the accused has no trial....

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