Choices In The Judicial System

Week 2: Decisions in the Judicial System
A high-profile case lands on your desk. Law enforcement built this case extensively over time, and it has gained public attention. Your office has been plea-bargaining at high volume lately to address an overflow of cases, but you know that a plea in this case—which is an option—may cause outrage. Another case, heartbreaking and unjust, but without the public attention, also lands on your desk. A plea is technically an option here as well. What should you do?
Last week, you began to explore the factors that criminal justice professionals weigh when presented with a case in the judicial system. This week, you extend your critical thinking by advocating for specific choices based on a case study.
Learning Objectives
Students will:
Analyze prosecutorial strategies for pursuing the truth and just outcomes
Evaluate ethical considerations when employing prosecutorial strategies
Evaluate factors relevant to a decision to pursue a trial
Recommend charges and court for a crime
Analyze the choice of pursuing a trial over a plea deal
Discussion: Truth, Justice, and Charging
Overcharging, or piling on charges to trigger the acceptance of a plea deal, is a common practice in prosecutorial settings to get a defendant to accept a particular deal. Horizontal charging, or multiplying accusations, and vertical charging, or charging at a higher level than warranted, are variations of overcharging. Depending on your perspective, these strategies provide leverage to uncover the truth, or they force defendants to make poor choices, admitting to inflated charges. But is the issue that clearly delineated? In this Discussion, you consider similar questions.
Post a response to the following:
How can overcharging or horizontal and vertical charging be employed as a strategy for discovering the truth? When is it most appropriate?
By whom are the strategies best applied?
At what point does overcharging or horizontal and vertical charging become coercion?
Is the strategy ethical?
HERE IS MY FIRST DESCUSSION QUESTION TO THE CLASS SO YOU WILL UNDERSTAND HOW TO ANSWER BACK TO THE 2 STUDENT REPLIES AND THE PROFESSOR REPLY SO JUST READ EVERYTHING FROM THIS PAGE TO CATCHUP WITH WEEK 1
Overcharging to discover the Truth
Law enforcement can use various techniques, including overcharging to discover the truth. Overcharging within the criminal justice involves additional charges against offenders that they cannot prove if the incident went to trial. Law enforcement uses the tactic to place themselves in a better situation to plea bargain (Johnson, 2019). Defense lawyers recognize two forms of overcharging. Vertical overcharging involves charging one offense at higher levels than case circumstances warrant. On the other hand, horizontal overcharging involves unreasonable accusation multiplication against one defendant. Prosecutors use overcharging because it permits them to accuse a criminal defendant that they cannot prove. In this case, they induce suspects to plead guilty to crimes that the law enforcement trusts the defendant committed.
Overcharging as Coercion and Unethical
Prosecutors have tremendous power because they can singlehandedly decide a punishment by determining what crimes they intend to charge defendants with. In this case, prosecutors can pressure suspects to take plea bargains and evade the probability of longer sentences for severe or additional crimes. In this case, overcharging is unethical and never appropriate because it is a technique to coerce plea deals and harass people. Prosecutors should not file charges without a reasonable probability of proof surpassing a reasonable doubt (Johnson, 2019). Overcharging also hinders the right to trial and truth discovery because prosecutors hide evidence of innocence to evade disclosure necessities waived by the plea arrangement. In this case, even very innocent individuals plead guilty to attain a lenient plea deal instead of risking major jail time at a trial.
Reference
Johnson, B. D. (2019). Plea-Trial Differences in Federal Punishment: Research and Policy Implications. Federal Sentencing Reporter, 31(4-5), 256-264.