CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Dervan on Plea Bargaining, False Pleas, and False Testimony

Lucian E. Dervan (Belmont University School of Law) has posted Bargained Justice: Plea Bargaining and the Psychology of False Pleas and False Testimony (For the Defense) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Plea bargaining is an institution that has come to dominate the American criminal justice system. While little psychological research was done in the decades following the 1970 Supreme Court decision that approved the practice of plea bargaining, many advances have been made in this field in the last decade. We now know, for example, that a significant number of defendants will falsely plead guilty in return for the benefits of a bargain. Further, we know that the presence of counsel can actually increase, not decrease, the prevalence of false pleas of guilty. We also know that pretrial detention can drastically increase the rate of false pleas of guilty by the innocent. Finally, we know that defendants will not only falsely plead guilty, but that they will also falsely testify against a co-defendant in return for the benefits of the deal. This piece examines each of these findings and considers what this research means for the future of bargained justice.

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