Plea bargain is an agreement in a criminal cases whereby the prosecutor offers the defendant the opportunity to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge or to the original criminal charge with a recommendation of a lighter than the maximum sentence.
A plea bargain allows criminal defendants to avoid the risk of conviction at trial on the original more serious charge. For example, a criminal defendant charged with a felony theft charge, the conviction of which would require imprisonment in state prison, may be offered the opportunity to plead guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge, which may not carry jail time.
In cases such as an automobile collision when there is a potential for civil liability against the defendant, the defendant may agree to plead no contest or "guilty with a civil reservation", which essentially is a guilty plea without admitting civil liability.
Plea bargaining can present a dilemma to defense attorneys, in that they must choose between vigorously seeking a good deal for their present client, or maintaining a good relationship with the prosecutor, for the sake of helping future clients.
In charge bargaining, defendants plead guilty to a less serious crime than the original charge. In count bargaining, they plead guilty to a subset of multiple original charges. In sentence bargaining, they plead guilty agreeing in advance what sentence will be given; however, this sentence can still be denied by the judge. In fact bargaining , defendants plead guilty pursuant to an agreement in which the prosecutor stipulates to certain facts that will affect how the defendant is punished under the sentencing guidlines.
Plea bargaining is criticized, particularly outside the United States, on the grounds that its close relationship with rewards, threats and coercion potentially endangers the correct legal outcome.
Recently, Chief Justice Dahiru Musdapher has described the plea-bargain system in Nigeria as "a novel concept of dubious origin", insisting that "it was invented to provide soft landing to high-profile criminals who loot the treasury entrusted to them. According to the CJN, it was invented to provide soft landing to high profile criminals who looted the treasury entrusted to them. "It should never again be mentioned in our jurisdiction," Musdapher said.
High profile cases where plea bargaining was used include that of the former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamiesiegha, the ex-governor of Edo State, Lucky Igbinedion, and recently the suspects in the alleged $26 million USD bribery scandal settlement deals in the Siemens, Halliburton, among other cases
Since the Obasanjo Administrations state governors have looted the nation to the tune of over N999 billion and the problem with Nigeria is about the type of punishment meted out. This notion of about plea bargain is something else. They bargain with the judge, bargain with the accused person, they returns half of the money, and then they give him some hairy-fairy punishment – go and serve three months in prison and the three months, will, of course, be in the hospital.
This was an encouragement for other governors like Genga Daniel to steal when he was in office. There is no plea bargain in our law and the importation is wrong.
It is corruption to bring plea bargain into the law of Nigeria.
Lucky Igbinedion in Edo State who was alleged to have stolen billions and billions of naira. They gave him plea bargain. They asked him to plea bargain, there and then he was fined three million naira which, he picked out of his purse and paid there.
It sent a notion that it had been pre_arranged that it would not be more than three million. Now, after that they started to gloat and shed crocodile tears and said the punishment was not adequate.
Plea bargain is actually not Nigeria law because it is perceived to be hidden from judicial scrutiny. I believe that overuse of plea bargaining breeds disrespect and even contempt for the law. They say political criminals like Tinubu, Akala, Alamiesiegha, Daniel, and Lucky look at the judicial process as a game or a sham, much like other deals made in life.