Magistrates’ Court to get plea bargaining
Plea bargaining, which so far only applied to cases heard by judges, will shortly also be possible in the Magistrates’ Court.
Reacting to a call for such a move, Justice Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici said he viewed the proposal as “extremely positive, particularly in view of the fact that plea bargaining has had a positive effect on the pending case load in the Superior Court where it has been in practice for a number of years”.
His ministry, he said, would be preparing the required amendments to make the legal provision possible.
The issue was raised by Nationalist backbencher and defence lawyer, Franco Debono during an arraignment on Monday. He was backed yesterday by Labour spokesman for justice, Josè Herrera, also a defence lawyer.
Dr Herrera said plea bargaining definitely needed to be regulated.
The majority of cases before the courts ended in an admission, so the backlog of pending cases did not make sense, he said, arguing that with a plea bargaining system, admissions would take place earlier in the proceedings.At present, the law governing plea bargaining states that the defence and the Attorney General may agree, in the eventuality of a guilty plea, on a punishment or measure, provided that the adjudicator is satisfied with the measure or punishment.