CrimProf Blog

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

Friday, August 19, 2022

Duff on When We Should Plead Guilty

R. A. Duff (University of Stirling - Department of Philosophy) has posted When Should We Plead Guilty? (in Pleading Guilty, ed. Julian Roberts and Jesper Ryberg, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
In a decent polity, this chapter argues, defendants in criminal trials should plead guilty if, but only if, they know that they are guilty. One who knows that he is guilty owes it to his fellow citizens to assist the criminal law’s enterprise of calling public wrongdoers to account, and to answer to them for his wrongdoing; one who knows that she is innocent, or does not know whether she is guilty, also has a civic responsibility to assist that enterprise, and to submit herself to the judgment of the court (which speaks in the polity’s name) on her guilt or innocence. In a dystopian society, by contrast, defendants may have no such responsibility: even if a guilty plea can have the meaning that it should have, as a formal confession of wrongdoing, that might not be a confession that citizens can be expected to make, given its dystopian context and destructive consequences. In such a context, unlike that of a decent polity, a modest sentence reduction might be justified as a reward for those who plead guilty when they have no duty to do so.

| Permalink


Post a comment