Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How Do You Plead?

The Léger Committee, which is considering reform of the penal code, will recommend allowing guilty pleas to more serious crimes (they are already allowed for the lesser crimes heard by le tribunal correctionnel as opposed to la cour des assises). The objective is to shorten trials (which will still be required, unlike in the U.S.) and thus alleviate pressure on the criminal courts.

To American eyes, it's almost impossible to imagine how a judicial system functions without the possibility of guilty pleas--and the plea bargaining that goes along with them. Curiously, I have yet to see a discussion of plea bargaining in any of the press articles concerning the committee's recommendation. Plea bargaining is an essential tool of prosecutors. A defendant is allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for cooperation needed to pursue confederates in crime. Surely the French watch enough American TV crime shows to appreciate how the system works--and is sometimes abused.

Commentary by a noted jurist here.

1 comment:

MYOS said...

Based on that article, the "person of interest" or the officially-charged and suspected is NOT allowed to have an attorney present while being interrogated by the police?
Did I read that right???

Right now, the big scandal du jour is that philosophy teacher who, witnessing an ID check, said loudly "Pikaboo Sarkozy!" It was in the middle of a crowd in the Marseille train station and he's charged for "disrupting the peace" and such and others. To top it off, he has been found guilty and fined $100.