Take the plea: the factors that influence innocent individuals to accept plea bargains
thesisposted on 24.05.2021, 13:13 by Lesley Zannella
Recently, plea bargaining has emerged as a factor that contributes to wrongful convictions. When a Crown offers a reduced sentence or lesser charge to a defendant in exchange for a guilty plea, there is the potential for innocent defendants to plead guilty. However, little is known about the factors that are influencing innocent defendants to accept plea bargains. The current study aimed to investigate the role of false evidence, risk, and modality on an innocent participant’s likelihood of accepting or rejecting a plea bargain. In a laboratory, innocent participants (N = 174) were accused of collaborating with another participant (confederate) on a problem solving task, and offered a plea bargain. Results showed that when participants were told there was an 80% chance of sanctions if they rejected the plea, they were more likely to admit guilt, and accept the plea. Additionally, participants who were high in compliance, high in fantasy proneness, or were younger, were more likely to accept the plea bargain. Implications of these findings for innocent defendants are discussed.