The integrity of the criminal justice system in the era of guilty pleas has become dependent on the decision making of defendants themselves rather than the decision making of judges and juries. Consent of the defendant is a morally transformative concept in this context since it is determinative of whether defendant rights have been respected in the trial process. The talk will explore consent as a psycho-legal concept and will identify aspects of current plea practice which are likely to be resulting in convictions based on defective consent and therefore rights violations. 

 

Dr Rebecca Helm is Lecturer in Law at the University of Exeter and Supervising Solicitor in its Law Clinic.

Her recent publications deal with plea bargaining and negotiated justice. She studies interactions between legal regulation and psychological and social factors in the criminal justice system.