Magdalena ROIBU, PhD
West University of Timișoara, Law Faculty
In the New Romanian Code of Criminal Procedure (hereinafter the NCPP), the pleading guilty procedure on the one hand borrows the features of the formerly consecrated proceedings, on the other hand, gains new dimensions which actually turn it into a special, self-governing procedure, which justifies its appellation of “plea bargaining”.
More precisely, in the NCPP the pleading guilty procedure shapes out under two forms: as a unilateral statement of the defendant given before the court, as well as a bilateral agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor.
As to the first situation, that of a unilateral statement, it is initially set out in art. 349, 2nd paragraph NCPP.
This text is the antechamber of art. 374, 4th paragraph NCPP which also refers to the unilateral statement of the defendant who expresses, before the court, his option for a settlement of the case in summary proceedings.
It is to be noticed that in such a hypothesis, the new code preserves the benefit of the penalties’ latitude that is reduced to a fourth in case of imprisonment and to a third in case of criminal fines (art. 396, 10th paragraph).
The second situation is actually the sheer novelty in the New Code of Criminal Procedure.
The bilateral plea bargaining (articles 478-488 NCCP) becomes a transaction which is concluded, during the early stage of investigation, solely between the defendant and the prosecutor, with the almost total exclusion of the judge, who may, if the case, censure the bargain.
The plea bargaining procedure, like many other new institutions introduced by the NCCP, has been subject to decisions of unconstitutionality ruled by the Romanian Constitutional Court, and, as a result, the Romanian Government adopted on the 18th of May - Act no. 18/2016 which substantially modifies and completes the structure of the NCCP, among other important laws.