Guilty Pleas in an Inquisitorial Setting – an Empirical Study of France
29 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2018
Date Written: September 2018
Anglo‐American guilty pleas have inspired criminal justice reformers in many inquisitorially based systems in recent years, in response to caseload pressures. In France, two different procedures based on the defendant's confession were introduced in 1999 and 2004 respectively: an out‐of‐court disposal (the composition pénale) and a prosecution pathway (the comparution sur reconnaissance préalable de culpabilité). Basing its analysis upon direct observations and interviews with French public prosecutors, this article examines the impact of these procedures on the French criminal justice system and its actors. Rather than a move from an inquisitorial to a more adversarial system, data collected for this study show a bureaucratization of the French criminal justice process. The role of public prosecutors is changing from that of judicial officers to caseload managers who have delegated part of their workload to less qualified staff for efficiency purposes.
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