What is it about?

To understand whether the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the plea-bargaining process, we surveyed practicing defense attorneys across the United States about their perceptions of whether and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected plea bargaining, particularly for detained clients.

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Why is it important?

This is the first survey of it's kind to examine how the plea negotiation process has changed since the pandemic started. This is important to know as legal scholars have suggested that the leveraging of charging power by prosecutors makes plea bargaining coercive, compelling defendants to forfeit their trial rights. More recently, some have asked whether the COVID-19 pandemic could exacerbate existing problems with the plea-bargaining process. Limited attorney-client contact, the lack of jury trials, and prolonged pretrial detention could increase coercion in plea bargaining, leading to false guilty pleas.

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This page is a summary of: COVID-19 exacerbates existing system factors that disadvantage defendants: Findings from a national survey of defense attorneys., Law and Human Behavior, April 2021, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/lhb0000442.
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