Apologies and Plea Bargaining

28 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2013

See all articles by Margareth Etienne

Margareth Etienne

University of Illinois College of Law

Jennifer K. Robbennolt

University of Illinois College of Law

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

Theoretically, encouraging apologies early in the criminal process may be a laudable goal given the potential benefits of apologies to victims, offenders, and communities. But empirically, the growing literature on apologies in psychology and law raises important questions about whether apologies -- when made prior to sentencing -- would lead to more favorable results for the offender. Given the overwhelming portion of cases that are resolved through guilty pleas, we argue that most defendants are unlikely to participate in pre-sentencing remorse or apology rituals without regard to the effect of the apology on plea bargaining outcomes. Mindful of recent scholarship on apologies in both law and psychology, we consider the role of apologies in plea bargaining and theorize about the ways in which apologies might affect plea negotiations. We conclude that, contrary to the assertion that apologies would lead to more favorable plea bargained outcomes for defendants, the nature of plea negotiation renders this result unlikely.

Keywords: apologies, plea bargaining

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Etienne, Margareth and Robbennolt, Jennifer K., Apologies and Plea Bargaining (2007). Marquette Law Review, Vol. 91, No. 295, 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2310173

Margareth Etienne

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
217-245-0878 (Phone)
217-244-1478 (Fax)

Jennifer K. Robbennolt (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
217-333-6623 (Phone)

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