The Alford Plea Turns Fifty: Why It Deserves Another Fifty Years
The Alford Plea Turns Fifty: Why It Deserves Another Fifty Years, ___ CREIGHTON L. REV. ___ (2020, Forthcoming).
23 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2020
Date Written: 2020
Fifty years ago in North Carolina v. Alford, the Supreme Court ruled that it does not violate due process for a judge to accept a guilty plea from a defendant who maintains his innocence. The Alford pleas are problematic to some, as they allow for the punishing of a defendant who has neither been adjudicated guilty nor admitted guilt. This essay critically evaluates the arguments against Alford pleas. It demonstrates that these anti-Alford plea arguments are largely a product of misunderstandings regarding innocence determinations, what constitutes coercion, and the impracticality of abolishing the practice. Furthermore, this essay discusses the overlooked benefits Alford pleas offer to defendants, victims, the criminal justice system, and society at large.
Keywords: Plea bargaining, Alford plea, Nolo contendere plea, Guilty pleas, False please, North Carolina v. Alford, Criminal justice reform, Innocence, Benefits of Alford pleas, False confessions
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