Why aren’t we having a conversation about plea deals?

Dear Editor:

Ever gone to court and agreed to a plea deal?
The judge asks you if you understand that you are giving up your right to a trial and if you made this decision voluntarily. You agree, but was it really voluntary? As recently seen in October during the Lawrence County case, where six police officers filed a lawsuit claiming that a meeting between the chief and municipal department heads spurred orders “emphasiz[ing] the need for the officers to issue more tickets because “revenue was down”, police will even overcharge in order to generate revenue.

You probably are aware while bargaining with the prosecutor that, on average, those who agree to plea deals have shorter sentencing or reduced fines. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has found that in the United States, 97 percent of federal convictions are obtained through plea bargains, with state convictions averaging at about 94 percent.

Doesn’t really feel as though you had a choice, does it? One of my biggest regrets is agreeing to a plea deal and giving up my right to a trial for a ticket that I was not guilty of.

Why aren’t we all having a conversation about plea deals?

Shelby Gutleber