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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Plea bargaining : a comparative study of Austrian and Canadian law Ziegelwanger, Vera


This thesis deals with plea bargaining, a method of settling criminal cases without litigation. Plea bargaining is any agreement by the accused to plead guilty in return for the promise of some benefit. While the practice is openly discussed in Canada, little literature exists about this topic in Austria. An analysis of the practice is thus made by comparing the Austrian law enforcement system to the Canadian one. After a comparison of the rules and principles that govern the procedures in both countries, the thesis deals with the problems that are caused by plea bargains. Proponents have said that plea bargaining is a practice that eases the administration of justice without either prejudicing the rights of the innocent or occasioning real injustice to the guilty. The second part of this work thus focuses on the rights of the accused and the rules that are designed to protect him. The defendant who pleads guilty receives mild treatment as a reward for his admission of guilt. Whether or not this is consistent with the public's claim for justice is dealt with in part three of the essay. The method used is an exploration of the goals and purposes of criminal punishment in Austria and Canada. It is shown that plea bargaining not only causes a lack of protection for the accused, it also creates inequality. The practice leads to a goal displacement. In the pursuit of efficiency the original goals of the penal system and the idea of justice are neglected.

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