Supreme Court Expands Defendants’ Plea Bargain Rights

In a 5-4 decision on Wednesday, the Supreme Court voted that criminal defendants have the right to effective lawyers in the plea bargain process. Over 90 percent of criminal cases in the United States end in a plea, rather than a trial. Evidence shows, however, that not all defendants have proper counsel during the plea bargain process. They may be poorly advised to take their case to trial, where they receive harsh sentences that often involve years of prison time. An editorial in today’s New York Times states: “The Supreme Court has long made clear that the right to effective counsel exists in all parts of a criminal proceeding. The court has strengthened that right, and improved American justice, by applying it to the entire plea bargaining process.”

For more information, see:

Washington Post, 3/21/12

New York Times, 3/21/12

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