This is one of the latest initiative from the Judiciary to reduce on case backlog—a major problem in Uganda’s justice system and thus enhance its efficiency and effectiveness. It is called Plea Bargaining.
Plea bargaining is an agreement between the accused and the State, where the accused agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a benefit notably, a reduction in the number of charges or the seriousness of the offenses or even, a recommended particular sentence. It should also be noted that pleading guilty looks a lot better on one’s criminal record than the conviction that might result from a full-fledged criminal trial.
The agreement must not be obtained under force, coercion or misrepresentation of facts. The Judge has powers to reject the agreement if it may occasion a miscarriage of justice. Once an agreement is rejected, it cannot be admissible in succeeding trial.
In Uganda, criminal prosecution is handled by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Accordingly, any party interested in benefiting from this scheme has to go through the Resident State Attorney. Currently, only persons accused of capital offences can benefit from this arrangement.
This scheme also saves costs of trial, transportation of witnesses, time of a judge but it still delivers a just decision. It further saves the accused and witnesses from the anxiety of criminal prosecution It is also unique because the victim is consulted and thereafter, all parties can then sign a plea bargain agreement.
It is on this agreement, where terms are clearly stipulated; say a reduced charge from murder to manslaughter or simply a reduced sentence.
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Note: THIS POST IS INTENDED AS A GENERAL STATEMENT OF THE LAW AND DOES NOT IN ANYWAY PURPORT TO OFFER SPECIFIC LEGAL ADVICE. DETAILED ADVICE IN AN INDIVIDUAL PROBLEM SHOULD ALWAYS BE SOUGHT