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Pleading Innocents: Laboratory Evidence of Plea Bargaining's Innocence Problem
Current Research in Social Psychology (2013)
  • Lucian E Dervan, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

We investigated plea bargaining by making students actually guilty or innocent of a cheating offense and varying the sentence that they would face if found ‘guilty’ by a review board. As hypothesized, guilty students were more likely than innocent students to accept a plea deal (i.e., admit guilt and lose credit; akin to accepting a sentence of probation) (Chi-square=8.63, p<.01) but we did not find an effect of sentence severity. Innocent students, though not as likely to plead as guilty students, showed an overall preference (56% across conditions) for accepting a plea deal. Implications and future directions are discussed. "The Innocent Defendant’s Dilemma: An Innovative Empirical Study of Plea Bargaining’s Innocence Problem," 103 Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 1 (2013): A longer law review article discussing the findings and examining the implications of the results on the constitutionality of plea bargaining is available at this here: 2071397.

  • plea bargaining,
  • innocence,
  • empirical study,
  • psychological study,
  • criminal law,
  • criminal procedure,
  • constitutional law
Publication Date
Citation Information
Lucian E Dervan. "Pleading Innocents: Laboratory Evidence of Plea Bargaining's Innocence Problem" Current Research in Social Psychology Vol. 21 Iss. 14 (2013)
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