January 01, 2015 Criminal Justice

Judicial Imposition of the Trial Tax

J. Vincent Aprile II

According to reliable estimates, 90 to 95 percent of criminal cases in both state and federal courts are resolved through guilty pleas. Jury and bench trials occur in a very small percentage of criminal cases, regardless of the jurisdiction. Analysts have emphasized that this disparity is the result of plea bargaining and the enormous leverage prosecutors have in that process. But a related and key concern is the impact that judges have in imposing a “trial tax” on those criminal defendants who assert their constitutional rights to trials and appellate review of their convictions and sentences.

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