Trials have traditionally been the normative procedure for determining criminal charges. Today, the overwhelming majority of convictions occur by way of summary proceedings. The difference between ordinary proceedings and alternative proceedings is that the latter are not surrounded by the same degree of safeguards that are present at trial. A trial serves as a check on governmental excesses and intends to assure the accuracy of the verdict. Simpliﬁ cation of proceeding usually goes along with restrictions on a criminal defendant’s rights and thus may reinforce the risk of wrongful convictions. So far, most of the attention has been devoted to wrongful convictions in which innocent people have been convicted after trial. Since most cases are handled through summary proceedings, such as plea bargaining in the U.S. and statements of guilt under continental law, the problem of wrongful convictions in these kinds of proceedings deserves much more attention. This chapter addresses this problem by discussing key issues related to summary assessments of “truth”
in continental, inquisitorial systems in Europe and in the U.S. adversarial system of justice.