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Consider this form of plea-bargaining: "Plead guilty to a lesser crime. In exchange, we won't prosecute you further and you give us information about your bosses and testify against them."

This is unfair, because a defendant who does not have this kind of information to offer gets a heavier sentence for the same crime.

Also, in Jewish law, you are not allowed to testify against yourself, possibly because:

(1) Rambam: The defendant may become depressed, even suicidal, and "confess" just to get it over with [Mishneh Torah, Sanhedrin 18:6].

(2) Yosef ibn Migash (12th-century Spanish rabbi): A confession would influence the judges, and they may not take evidence of innocence as seriously.

On the other hand, a plea-bargain is technically not "testifying" in court against yourself (except for the minor matter).

But what if the defendant is promised immunity in exchange for info and testimony. Would that make the deal more Jewishly acceptable (even though unfair to others)?

Is this or any other form of plea-bargaining allowed in Judaism?

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    Are we talking in a Beit Din here? Or civil court? – Josh K Oct 31 '19 at 17:46
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    I had a bet din in mind, but wouldn't mind learning about civil court. – Maurice Mizrahi Oct 31 '19 at 17:57
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    "You confess to comitting a lesser crime you didn't actually commit " Not necessarily. – Maurice Mizrahi Oct 31 '19 at 18:19
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    No, in Judaism it does not work that way, unless we mimic a secular court (we might if the judges see it fit, and then anything's possible). THe reason for the mechanism you explained is the overall benefit for the society which is absent from the strict Jewish law where one should be judged for his own crimes and nothing more. THe court does not negotiate with either part - the defendant or the witnesses, it can't say - "we can hang you, but if you testify against Reuben, we'll only give you lashes". – Al Berko Oct 31 '19 at 22:07
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    @DanF A bais din is forbidden to hear testimony from the accused in which he admits to a crime (any crime). They can only hear testimony from witnesses in order to convict him (or prove him innocent). A melech is able to handle someone extra-judicialy and a bais din (when no melech exists) can process things in a similar way. However, Bais Din cannot alter the methodology of a trial. – sabbahillel Nov 1 '19 at 0:43

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