Title: Plea bargaining and the trial penalty in Canada

Authors: Daniel Alati

Addresses: School of Law, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong

Abstract: This article takes an in-depth look into sentencing and into a concept that seems to be inherent within it, that is, the trial penalty. It seeks to answer the question "Should there be a trial penalty?". In doing so, it begins by analysing the pros and cons of plea bargaining and argues that the weight of the disadvantages of the process, taken together with the need to respect entrenched constitutional rights regarding the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial, mean that a trial penalty should not exist. It is then argued that while the intuitive existence of an explicit trial penalty is accepted by many within the system, there is a lack of empirical evidence to prove said existence. The article concludes by offering possible solutions to various problems associated with the plea process, as it is currently practised.

Keywords: criminal law; criminal procedure; sentencing; plea bargaining; trial penalty; Canada; human rights; fair trial; presumption of innocence; constitutional rights.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHRCS.2015.072474

International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, 2015 Vol.3 No.3, pp.206 - 219

Received: 15 May 2015
Accepted: 16 May 2015

Published online: 14 Oct 2015 *

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