GEO

Plea Bargaining in Georgia

23 February, 2010

One of the first acts of the Saakashvili government in February 2004 was to introduce plea bargaining into Georgia’s legal system. A plea bargain is, quite simply, "an agreement [between the prosecutor and the defendant] that, if an accused person says they are guilty, they will be charged with a less serious crime or will receive a less severe punishment". The principle is simple, a defendant is rewarded for relinquishing his right to a fair trial and therefore saving all concerned from a long and often expensive legal battle. However, plea bargaining has proved to be as controversial as it is simple. While some legal experts praise it for making the legal process more efficient, detractors slam it as reducing the basic right to a fair trial to something that can be bought and sold. So while plea bargaining is legal and a widely accepted part of the system in the US, various other countries have rejected the practice. The UK authorities even went as far as to crack down on judges who informally engaged in the practice.