Course: Procedural Law
Santobello v. New York (1971) is a landmark case in criminal procedure that established the principle of plea bargaining as a constitutional right.
Santobello v. New York (1971) is a landmark case in criminal procedure that established the principle of plea bargaining as a constitutional right. In this case, the defendant, Vincent James Santobello, pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree robbery in exchange for the prosecutor’s promise to recommend a lenient sentence. However, the prosecutor did not keep this promise and recommended a harsher sentence than had been agreed upon.
The Supreme Court held that the prosecutor’s failure to keep the plea agreement violated Santobello’s due process rights. The Court noted that plea bargaining is an important component of the criminal justice system, and that both defendants and prosecutors have a legitimate interest in its use. The Court held that when a prosecutor makes a promise to a defendant as part of a plea agreement, the promise must be kept in order to uphold the integrity of the criminal justice system.
The Santobello decision established the principle that plea agreements are contractual in nature, and that prosecutors have a duty to uphold their end of the bargain. This decision has had a significant impact on the criminal justice system, as plea bargaining has become the primary means by which criminal cases are resolved in the United States.
Since the Santobello decision, the use of plea bargaining has become increasingly common in criminal cases. This is due in part to the fact that plea bargaining allows defendants to avoid the uncertainty and expense of a trial, while also allowing prosecutors to resolve cases more quickly and efficiently.
However, the use of plea bargaining has also been criticized for a number of reasons. Some critics argue that plea bargaining can result in innocent defendants pleading guilty in order to avoid the risk of a harsher sentence at trial. Others argue that the use of plea bargaining can result in disparities in sentencing, as defendants with better negotiating skills or more resources may receive more lenient sentences.
Despite these criticisms, the Santobello decision remains an important landmark in criminal procedure, as it established the principle that plea agreements are contractual in nature and must be upheld in order to preserve the integrity of the criminal justice system.
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Last Modified: 03/14/2023