State of the States: A survey of statutory law, regulations and court rules pertaining to guilty pleas across the United States

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Abstract

A psycholegal research agenda on guilty pleas is in its nascent stage. Multijurisdictional surveys of related law and policy may advance this research agenda by focusing investigators on the specifics of existing policies and motivating cross-jurisdictional comparisons of diverse policies. We thus conducted a systematic, national survey of statutes, regulations and court rules across the United States pertaining to nine aspects of the guilty plea process, including sentencing differentials, collateral consequences and waiver of rights, which have been identified in existing legal and psycholegal research and commentary. Following a discussion of these issues, including legal concerns and existing research findings, we present the results of our systematic survey. We supplement this review with a non-systematic sampling of appellate case law. Broadly, there was notable diversity in whether and how jurisdictions approached these issues. We discuss general and specific implications of our findings for future research, emphasizing the importance of data on actual policies and procedures to the design of studies that may contribute to evidence-based criminal justice policy.

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Zottoli, T. M., Daftary-Kapur, T., Edkins, V. A., Redlich, A. D., King, C. M., Dervan, L. E., & Tahan, E. (2019). State of the States: A survey of statutory law, regulations and court rules pertaining to guilty pleas across the United States. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 37(4), 388–434. https://doi.org/10.1002/bsl.2413

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