Plea negotiations: An empirical analysis

Abstract

Negotiating guilty pleas (‘plea bargaining’) is a central element of criminal justice processes in Australia, yet little is known outside the legal community about the frequency and outcomes of plea negotiations. This study addresses this important knowledge gap through qualitative and quantitative analysis of cases that were resolved through negotiated guilty pleas in Victorian courts. The study found that negotiations are used in almost all cases of guilty pleas across all court levels and often involve an extensive negotiation process. The study highlighted differences in the way negotiations play out in summary and indictable courts and identified 14 different forms of plea negotiation.