Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.C.J. in Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Kimberly A. Kaiser

Second Advisor

Laura Beckman

Third Advisor

Francis Boateng


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



The concept of plea bargaining was not compractice until the nineteenth century (Langbein, 1978; Alschuler, 1979). Before that time, criminal defendants lacked representation in the court, leaving the judge to determine sentencing and punishment. Plea bargaining has become the prominent practice, with around 90% of cases, state and federal, resulting in a plea (Rabin, 1972; Lagoy, Senna, & Siegel, 1976; Alschuler, 1979; Alschuler, 1983; Scott & Stuntz, 1992; Schulhofer, 1992; Starkweather, 1992; Ross, 2006; Silveira, 2017). The concept of plea bargaining is inevitably accompanied by discretion, specifically prosecutorial discretion. Prosecutorial discretion grants prosecutors power in deciding what charges they would seek against suspects and penalties associated with the crime(s) (Welling, 1987). Sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimums have affected how prosecutors are able to use their discretion. Previous literature concerning plea bargaining and prosecutorial discretion fails to discuss the difference in usage of plea bargaining between crime types (violent and nonviolent), specifically in cases dealing with multiple charges as well as the moderating effect of defendant characteristics on the relationship between plea bargaining and crime type.. The purpose of this paper is to close the previously mentioned gaps in the literature by determining if plea bargaining is utilized more often in cases against defendants who have committed violent crime or nonviolent crime and to uncover the moderating effect of defendant characteristics on the relationship between plea bargaining and crime type.

Included in

Criminology Commons



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