Judicial Process as a Game of Poker

Offering the accused a more lenient sentence for pleading guilty has many advantages, but is there not something distasteful about the practice, common in the modern criminal justice system, of overcharging the accused in order to pressure them to plead guilty?

…an accused person can rarely feel completely assured of acquittal however innocent he knows himself to be. He might therefore be tempted (or advised by his counsel) to cut his losses and plead guilty. This is all the more so where he is of low intelligence or weak character.

Where in addition there is the possibility of plea-bargaining, the effect of the proposal is doubly vicious. It turns criminal justice into a kind of game, a little like a Nigerian census in which the various states of the country haggle over the size of their populations, the allocation of central funds being according to size of population. The prosecutor overcharges, the defense agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge. This is poker, not justice.

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