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Prosecutors' Considerations when Initiating Plea Bargaining
  • Casey Tisdale,
  • Ashley Votruba
Casey Tisdale
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Ashley Votruba
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
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Prosecutors are the key decision-makers when it comes to plea bargaining (Ball, 2006; Davis, 2001), which is responsible for the resolution of about 90% of criminal cases (Johnson, 2023). We distributed a mixed-method survey to a national sample of 180 prosecutors to ask them their key considerations when they initiate and prosecute a criminal case. Additionally, our survey asked prosecutors to provide any additional information they wanted to share regarding plea bargaining. We then conducted a qualitative content analysis, informed by Schreier (2012), to comprehensively identify the factors the prosecutors discussed. We found several factors that prosecutors take into consideration when starting to evaluate a criminal case: qualities of the criminal defendant (e.g., criminal history), victim input (e.g., victim wishes), and factors specific to the case (e.g., evidence strength). Additionally, when asked if they would like to share anything regarding plea bargaining, some prosecutors stressed the necessity of the plea system, some shared their punishment orientations, and others discussed how they determine punishment on a case-by-case basis. Overall, prosecutors tended to stress criminal history as largely influential in their plea decision-making. This study provides insight into prosecutorial plea bargain decision-making while providing opportunity for future research.
14 Jul 2023Submitted to Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy
18 Jul 2023Submission Checks Completed
18 Jul 2023Assigned to Editor
18 Jul 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
20 Sep 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
16 Oct 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Major
01 Nov 20231st Revision Received
14 Nov 2023Submission Checks Completed
14 Nov 2023Assigned to Editor
18 Nov 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending