American Prosecutors’ Powers and Obligations In the Era of Plea Bargaining
TRANSNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES ON PROSECUTORIAL POWER, Erik Luna, ed., Forthcoming
22 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2010 Last revised: 9 Feb 2011
This paper, written as a chapter for a forthcoming volume on international comparisons of prosecutors’ roles in various jurisdictions, provides a basic overview of the different rules and practical constraints on American prosecutors. It offers a critical view of how state and federal prosecutors differ in the exercise of their discretion and ability to influence adjudication outcomes according to variations in such factors as sentencing rules, control over investigations, resource constraints and the pervasiveness of plea bargaining. It describes, for instance, the effect of generally stronger evidence gathering in federal prosecutions and the ability of charging discretion to compensate for weak government evidence in achieving convictions through pleas.
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