Criminal Courts Exam 2 Study Guide Cara Beere
Part 1: Pleas/Plea Bargains
Things to bargain over:
1) Sentence: Both sides decide on a recommended time for a defendant.
2) Charge: Bargain for what charges the defendant will be found guilty of. Drop most serious,
3) Count: How many counts the defendant will be charges with, 1 or 2 counts manslaughter,
Going rate: What the normal plea bargain rate is for the specific crime- what crime is worth
what time, different in each state/county city.
Bargains: (Other than just pleading guilty with no other comments)
1) No contest (noco contender): A way of pleading guilty in which the defendant never actually
2) Alford Guilty Plea: Defendant pleas guilty but still thinks they're innocent. Note: To plead
guilty, the defendant has to know their rights to a trial have been given up, and they must
knowingly and voluntarily enter the guilty plea.
To withdraw a guilty plea:
1) Has to show it wasn't voluntarily/knowingly entered
2) Has to show the sentence was illegal
3) Has to show that the court lacked jurisdiction
Part 2: Witnesses
Types of Witnesses
1) Character Witness: Only used by defense. Used to show good character of defendant. Not
commonly used: Because they might not know about the defendants prior criminal
background, and their opinion might change on the stand. Not admissible in court; usually not a
2) Eye-Witness: They witness the crime and the person who committed the crime. Problems:
They can lose their memory between the time of the crime and the time of the trial and pick out
the wrong person. Not seemed as being a very credible witness, and they believe themselves.
Jurors usually are not aware of the problems with eye-witnesses and can place a lot of their
decision on just this person alone.
3) Expert Witness: Doctors, coroners, psychiatrists, forensic scientists, etc. Use their expertise
to form an opinion on the case. *Get paid to appear in court.* Such things as ballistics(guns),
handwriting, drug squad(police), etc. Sometimes the defense and prosecution will bring in
different experts in the same field. Jurors/judge do not have to agree with the expert.
4) Police Officers: Most common type of witness. Testify to the circumstances of arrest and
search. This can include DUI's, drug cases, etc. Problems: police officers will lie on the stand
and misconstrue witnesses statements.
5) Victim-Witness: Sometimes does not see the defendant again until the trial. Victims
advocates: gives the victim-witness information for the trial, helps them though it, etc, because of the Victims Bill of Rights. Sometimes there is victim restitution if the stolen item/money is
found. Victim impact statements are allowed in court.
6) Defendant-Witness: This is a very rare occurrence. This is usually a burden on the
prosecution because if they're losing, it will likely help the defenses case. This might make the
defendant say something stupid to hurt their case. Prior crimes of dishonesty can be brought up
Trial Part I
People get summoned by way of mail.
Venire: The group of possible jury people waiting at the courthouse for a trial to be assigned to
Jury Panel: They send 30-40 people into the courtroom where only 14 will be picked.
Voir Dire: prosecution and defense, or just the judge, will question these people to eliminate
Questions they ask: If they have relationships with anyone in law enforcement, what their job
is and how long they've been there, if they have kids, their criminal history, if they've been a
victim of a crime or know someone who has, if they're married, education. If there is a conflict to
any of these:
1) Cause: Juror is biased and won't be able to decide family. No limit as to how many people
can be released this way.
2) Peremptory: Seven allowed on each side, prosecution/defenses intuition that there i