Principles of Sentencing & Use of Plea Bargains

Jori Reiken
2 min readMay 27, 2021

General deterrence is when a judge gives a harsh sentence that is aimed at deterring the public and potential offenders from committing similar offences. These sentences are given as an example of what happens to allow the general public to avoid this type of offence. Specific deterrence is another type of harsh sentence, but this sentence is used to deter the offender from re-offending. This sentence is specific to the offender, but will still be harsh. A third principle of sentencing is restitution, restitution is a sentence where the offender is required to repay the victim, this can be a partial or full restitution and is a condition under a probation order.

Plea Bargains are pretrial negotiations between the crown and the defence, this is a widespread and common practice within the legal system. They usually include the defendant pleading guilty for concession or sympathy from the crown. A plea bargain is defined as an agreement by the accused to plead guilty in return for a promise or benefit. The plea bargain process is used as a prevention for delays within the courts which allows the courts to run smoothly and eliminate backlog. There are many reasons the accused might take the plea bargain approach to their trial and plead guilty, some examples are; reducing the number of charges, reducing the seriousness of a charge, proceeding as a summary conviction rather than indictable, dropping charges against a loved one or friend, or the crown making a recommendation to the court regarding an appropriate sentence.

The advantages to plea bargains include the possibility of a reduced charge, reduced seriousness, a change from an indictment proceeding to a summary proceeding, dropping charges against another person in exchange for the plea bargain, or a recommendation from the crown for an appropriate or lower sentence. Although there are many benefits to the plea bargaining process, there are also criticisms and disadvantages. Some disadvantages include: the lack of guarantee which means the sentence can be much more than expected; the accused is often not fully informed of their rights, the legal repercussions and are unaware of the process; the sentence and the crime often won’t match up because charges may be dropped and sentences are often reduced by experienced attorneys; and the deference lawyer may force the defendant into a guilty plea when it is not in the best interest of the accused, this can be a result of incompetency, inexperience or disinterest.