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Guilty Plea: Plea Bargaining - Plea Bargaining And Sentencing Guidelines

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The statute that created the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 1984 directed it to promulgate policy statements concerning the acceptance or rejection of plea agreements by judges. The legislative history of this statute revealed Congress's concern that plea bargaining could undermine the equality in sentencing it sought to achieve. When the Commission submitted its Sentencing Guidelines to Congress in 1987, however, it declared: "The Commission has decided that these initial guidelines will not in general make significant changes in current plea negotiation practices . . . . The Commission will collect data on the courts' plea practices and will analyze this information . . . . In light of this information and analysis, the Commission will seek to further regulate the plea agreement process as appropriate" (U.S. Sentencing Commission, p. 1.8). Thirteen years after this statement, the Commission apparently was still studying the issue. With one unimportant exception, state sentencing guidelines have imposed no limits on plea bargaining at all.

Sentencing guidelines have tended to transfer sentencing discretion from judges to prosecutors. Indeed, guidelines that appear to mandate tough sentences but leave plea bargaining unconstrained sometimes mimic the "good-cop, bad-cop" stratagem for obtaining confessions at the stationhouse. The sentencing commission, the "bad-cop," threatens the accused with harsh treatment. The prosecutor, the "good-cop," then offers to save the accused from the threatened guidelines sentence in exchange for a plea of guilty. Substantial sentencing discretion remains—except for defendants who exercise the right to trial.

Of course much depends on the extent to which prosecutors do approve less severe treatment than sentencing guidelines prescribe when defendants plead guilty. Federal prosecutors seem to have undercut guidelines less than state prosecutors, and although researchers have discovered at least occasional guidelines evasion through plea bargaining in every federal district studied, the extent of this evasion varies substantially from one district to the next (see Schulhofer and Nagel).

Guilty Plea: Plea Bargaining - Evaluations Of Plea Bargaining [next] [back] Guilty Plea: Plea Bargaining - The Principal Actors In The Bargaining Process

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about 10 years ago

This is so true and happening on a daily basis. I was in an altercation at a drinking party and had fallen asleep on the couch. I awoke to people starting "stuff" with me. I ran outside to a neighbors house, then called 911. In a matter of less than 2 minutes AFTER I called 911, things had culminated into these people pursuing after me and I kicked one person in the face who was trying to tackle me. Finally I was able to get away to get a street address for the 911 operator. I found out later that 2 teeth were displaced in his mouth. That night I was charged with Willful Injury(D). I have the 911 call where I am saying "I have no problem with you guys", "what's the street here?", someone saying "let's fight" and more. I bonded out, and a week later the charges were dropped "in furtherance of justice". The case reopened a month later with triple the charges. Willful(C) Assault Serious Injury(D). This was on July 9. I was to report for booking on July 16. I was given a no surety bond. Sign and go. When I finally talked to my lawyer on Oct.9, he informed me I had been offered a plea bargain for the original charge. This was dated the same day as my arrest July 16. And she would agree to suspend the sentence.

Exactly what "JUSTICE" was she seeking?

Instead of being an advocate for the right thing, she is making deals with herself to get the conviction.

She had one judge dismiss, and brought back the inflated charges to another judge.

Do you think the judge who dismissed would be curious as to her rather ambiguous intentions?

Asking for "more justice" only to offer the old charge 7 days later?

Isnt there a law about frivilous dismissals merely to avoid a potential bar?

I dont know how old this thread is, but if anyone reads this, please have an attorney reach me.

Remember, I have evidence which clears me (911 phonecall). Which interestingly enough was not mentioned in the trial info that was used to charge me. Is that exculpatory witholding?


thank you