Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1315445
 


 



A Life in the Balance: Is There a Right to Plead Guilty Even If it is to Avoid the Death Penalty?


Harry M. Caldwell


Pepperdine University - School of Law

Anthony X. McDermott


Pepperdine University - School of Law

December 12, 2008

Dickinson Law Review, Vol. 104, p. 409, 2000
Pepperdine University Legal Studies Research Paper

Abstract:     
This article examines whether there is a right to plead guilty and, assuming such a right, whether the right applies in cases where the prosecution attempts to amend the charge to seek the death penalty. Professors Caldwell and McDermott note that California recognizes a statutory right of defendants to plead guilty in non-capital cases, which magistrates are required to accept with only certain narrow exceptions as determined by the applicable case law (People v. Hall, Cronk v. Municipal Court, and People v. Reza). They then compare the applicable laws in Massachusetts, Florida, and New York, and provide an anlysis of the competing policy goals of the prosecution's discretion in charging and the accused's right to plead. Prosecutors have broad discretion in making charges, allowing them to consider special facts and circumstances not taken into account by the applicable rules. To ensure such individualized justice, prosecutors should be permitted to push back the charging decision as far as possible in capital cases to gain optimum knowledge and perspective. However, such a practice risks that a defendant will plead early to a non-capital murder charge. Professors Caldwell and McDermott conclude by suggesting a modification to existing California law in order to allow greater flexibility for prosecutors in making capital-filing decisions.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 30

Keywords: plead, pleading, criminal, guilty, death penalty, prosecutor, discretion, capital case, capital murder, charge, capital filing

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Date posted: December 15, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Caldwell, Harry M. and McDermott, Anthony X., A Life in the Balance: Is There a Right to Plead Guilty Even If it is to Avoid the Death Penalty? (December 12, 2008). Dickinson Law Review, Vol. 104, p. 409, 2000; Pepperdine University Legal Studies Research Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1315445

Contact Information

Harry M. Caldwell (Contact Author)
Pepperdine University - School of Law ( email )
24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
United States
Anthony X. McDermott
Pepperdine University - School of Law ( email )
24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
United States
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