© Criminal Legal News, All Rights Reserved, CLN print ISSN: 2576-9987 | CLN online ISSN: 2577-0004, Absurd, Abusive, and Outrageous: The Creation of Crime and Criminals in America, Study’s Data Show Racial Disparity in Plea Bargaining Outcomes, Missouri Supreme Court Holds Probation Revocation for Nonpayment of Court Costs Unconstitutional, Evidence Scandal Leads to the Dismissal of over 140 Texas Criminal Cases, Fourth Circuit Holds Supervised Release Revocation Sentence Unreasonable, Urban Institute Releases Report Detailing the Effects of Criminal Background Checks on Employment, California SVP Determination Based on Hearsay Evidence Reversed, Alford Pleas: Prosecutors’ Choice for the Wrongfully Convicted, Eighth Circuit: Warrantless Seizure of Handgun Not Permitted under Plain View Doctrine, Oregon Supreme Court Rules No Vindictiveness in Resentencing Where Longer Term for Specific Conviction but Overall Multi-Conviction Sentence Shorter, Seventh Circuit: Violent Cop’s Below-Guideline Sentence Not Justified, Again, Unloaded Firearm in Zipped Case Is Not “Deadly Weapon” under Oregon’s First-Degree Burglary Statute, D.C. 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But after years and sometimes decades in prison, the overwhelming desire is simply freedom. The Alford plea unambiguously maintains innocence while a nolo contendre plea simply does not admit guilt. In fact, an Alford plea has some serious disadvantages compared to a standard guilty plea. One example is a situation where the defendant has no recollection of the pertinent events due to intoxication or amnesia. For purposes of sentencing, the Alford Plea is a guilty plea. A criminal trial will take several days in many circumstances. A plea bargain may give the defendant a lightened sentence, in exchange for either confessing to some crimes, or giving information that is related to the offence, for example, the location of stolen goods or the names and locations of other participants, as well as their part in the offence. Still have questions? Withal, plea bargaining has become a hot topic in debates whether it is good for the society or not. The name, Alford plea, is taken from North Carolina v. The colloquy that accompanies a typical guilty plea contains an admission to certain conduct. This can help a defendant avoid collateral consequences in a civil lawsuit that arises from the same events as the criminal case. In such a case, the “advantage” to pleading guilty is the avoiding of a guilty finding, after trial, of a more serious charge. A Alford plea might be a choice for you, but just a skilled criminal defense attorney is able to inform you the advantages and disadvantages of taking this approach. A bargain has the obvious advantages of certainty and reduction of … Why the Alford Plea Might Be Offered. An Alford plea is similar to pleading no contest. The effect of an Alford plea on those exonerated but facing retrial is the burden of a conviction remaining on their record and an inability to seek civil damages for the wrongful conviction because they admitted to their guilt. It's called an "Alford plea," and it typically involves a defendant pleading guilty while claiming to be innocent.With a typical no-contest plea, the defendant is refusing to admit guilt; with an Alford plea, the defendant is declaring innocence. ? An Alford Plea is probably NOT in his best interests. Evaluating Plea Bargain Advantages and Disadvantages. This plea is not considered compelled within the language of the Fifth Amendment if the plea represents a voluntary, knowing, and intelligent choice between the available options (the defendant — realizing the strength of … Both have use to conclude the case in a conviction. An Alford plea is a plea in a criminal court in which the defendant does not admit guilt but concedes the government has sufficient evidence to convict. The trump campaign loves to steal music to use at their events. Those admissions could later be used, for example, in a subsequent civil trial, against the defendant. (400 U.S. 25 (1970).) 1. However, in 1963, a man named Henry Alford … For future crimes, the guilty plea may or may not be used against the defendant, depending on the court that … By the 1960’s, plea bargaining in the United States was looked upon unfavorably and discouraged by most judges. An Alford plea is similar to pleading no contest. Alford plea. A plea bargain can make the trial skip a bit and go straight to the judge in order to discuss the sentencing. The Alford plea is the guilty acceptance of a crime for a person that claims innocence in the activity. Offering an "Alford Plea" is also considered a guilty plea. It often saves the time and expense of a trial, but it does typically mean that the defendant must plead guilty to some crime. Thus, an Alford plea is similar to a nolo contendere (no-contest) plea, but it is, in reality, a guilty plea while still maintaining one’s innocence. Actually, a Criminal trial may take several days in many circumstances, or some may take several weeks. Advantages and Disadvantages of Plea Bargaining Cherese Murphy CJA/224 May 17, 2012 Maxine Craig Advantages and Disadvantages of Plea Bargaining The history of plea bargaining go back to the 19th century; by the second half of the 19th century plea bargaining was somewhat a common practice. For future crimes, the guilty plea may or may not be used against the defendant, depending on the court that presides over the future crime. The third, Damien Echols, was sentenced to death. In 2006, James Thompson of Baltimore, Maryland, pled guilty to the rape and murder of a 24-year-old college student. The primary advantage of the Alford plea is that in a civil lawsuit the guilt or innocence of the defendant remains an issue to be decided since there has been no admission of guilt in the criminal trial. In 2007, DNA evidence established that the West Memphis Three could not be connected to the crime scene. The shooting happened on March 15, 2015. In effect, it's basically saying "I didn't do it, but I can see why you think I did". Prosecutors benefit from plea bargaining because it enables them to secure high conviction rates while avoid-ing the expense, uncertainty, and opportunity costs of trials. ... Once a plea has been entered into in court, it may or may not be difficult to withdraw or undo the plea. Not all states permit the Alford plea, and the specific consequences vary among the states that do recognize it. Thompson, however, was offered an Alford plea—a special type of plea in which the accused agrees to plead guilty, but is able to go free after the fact once there is a possibility of a retrial. Today, when Alford Pleas are accepted, trial judges have discretion as to whether to accept the plea. The Alford plea, as with most things in the law, is named after the defendant who made it infamous. The Alford plea is treated as a guilty plea for sentencing, yet allows the individual using it to maintain their innocence. “It’s not perfect by any means, but it at least brings closure to some areas and some aspects.”, Sources: www.cbsnews.com, www.nbcnews.com, www.prisonlegalnews.org. There are many advantages to plea negotiations/bargains. The objective of the defense is that by agreeing to effectively plead guilty without formally doing so, in exchange for avoiding the need for a trial the court will respond with a more lenient sentence. He maintained that he was innocent, but the evidence against him appeared to be strong. The court will still find you guilty but … Advantages And Disadvantages Of Plea Bargaining. Alford accepted the plea but maintained his innocence. So in effect, he could face a harsher penalty solely for pleading not guilty, something that everyone is supposed to have a constitutional, legal, and moral right to do- if you are accused of something, you are supposed to be able to challenge the accusations against you. An Alford plea can be entered in any kind of case including felonies (remember, Alford was charged with first-degree murder and pled guilty to second-degree murder). Pleading no contest means, that you neither admit or deny the allegation. For purposes of sentencing, the Alford Plea is a guilty plea. Plea Bargains from the Defendant’s and Prosecutor’s Views: Pros. But he’d give up a chance at exoneration. There may be a number of advantages as well as disadvantages of plea bargaining. Do you think the two Senate seats in Georgia will flip? AnAlford plea is similar to a plea of nolo contendere, or “no contest”; however, the difference is“[a]n Alford plea is thus a guilty plea and places the defendant in the same position as if there had been a trial and conviction by a jury.” Argot v State, 261 Ga. App. It is not uncommon for certain elements of a crime, which are in and of themselves criminal acts, to come to light during the investigation and trial process. Join Yahoo Answers and get 100 points today. Mr. Alford was charged with first degree murder and was facing the death penalty if convicted by a Jury. Ct. 2010). Owens insisted on his day in court. List of Advantages of Plea Bargaining. There are some practical advantages to taking an Alford plea beyond avoiding harsher punishment. The Alford plea basically involves the accused denying guilt, but accepting that the evidence against them is sufficiently strong that a jury would probably convict. State courts, on the other hand, have no qualms about accepting an Alford plea even in cases where the defendant’s guilt is highly questionable or factually unprovable. A man named Henry Alford had been charged with first degree murder and was facing the death penalty. How about this one? The plea is commonly used in local and state courts in the United States." Although some courts will accept a no-contest plea to felonies, 17-23-40 only authorizes a nolo contendere plea in a misdemeanor case. For noncitizens charged with crimes, therefore, pleading guilty to an offense that reduces the likelihood of deportation is another potential benefit of plea bargaining. The colloquy that accompanies a typical guilty plea contains an admission to certain conduct. The primary advantage of plea bargaining is that it speeds up the processes of the justice system. They were immediately released but have to serve ten years on probation and are still convicted felons.” Summing up his predicament, Misskelley stated, “Although I am innocent, this plea is in my best interest.”. As contradictory as this may sound, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld this type of plea in a 1970 case originating from North Carolina. Instead the state offered the Alford plea, a plea that allows the defendants to proclaim their innocence but plead guilty with time served (Paradise Lost 3). When confronted with wrongful convictions, many prosecutors are forcing the exonerated on remand to make a Hobson’s choice: risk another trial or enter an Alford plea and go home. With a plea of nolo contendere, the defendant does not expressly admit guilt. To the world, and legally, he’d still be a killer. “I need to do what I need to do for my family,” said Dennis, so he entered an Alford plea. As a digital subscriber to Criminal Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content. According to Unive… attorneys see the Alford plea as a positive step for criminal defendants who wish to maintain their innocence without losing the ability to … The Alford plea gets its name from a 1970 U.S. Supreme Court case, North Carolina v. Alford. The colloquy that accompanies a typical guilty plea contains an admission to certain conduct. It also depends on what is being offered. The colloquy that accompanies a typical guilty plea contains an admission to certain conduct. There are some practical advantages to taking an Alford plea beyond avoiding harsher punishment. The punishment is the same, so refusing to comply with probation will bring the same punishment regardless of why. Plea bargaining is used in hearing a criminal case to avoid a lengthy trial, where the prosecutor and the defendant would make an agreement by themselves, instead of taking the trial to a jury, often including things like pleading guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence or pleading to a lesser charge. His case was problematic from the start because he had a prior murder conviction, and while there were no eyewitness to the crime, there were witnesses who said he admitted to the murder. Important advantages to this plea include: If you plead no contest, your plea cannot be used against you in a civil action filed by any victim who suffered injuries due to your actions. In a similar story, a federal court concluded that James Dennis was convicted “for a crime in all probability he did not commit.” The prosecution, however, threatened to try him again for the 1991 murder of 17-year-old Chedell Williams. Alford plea on the opposite hand is achieved by expressly admitting guilt. I'd say the Alford plea itself belies a few problems with the legal system as a whole. Like a nolo contendere plea, an Alford plea arrests the full process of criminal trial because the defendant -- typically, only with the court's permission -- accepts all the ramifications of a guilty verdict (i.e. Alford originally made the plea because if he pleaded not guilty and lost, he would face the death penalty for his crimes, whereas if he pleaded guilty, the maximum was life imprisonment. Pleading no contest means, that you neither admit or deny the allegation. An Alford plea is similar to a guilty plea for appeal purposes and is very limited I am pleased to communicate with you concerning legal matters. With the rapid increase of exonerations for wrongful convictions, the Alford plea has become the preferred choice for prosecutors. As PLN reported back in 2012, “Rather than trusting the judicial system that had kept them behind bars for over 18 years…Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley accepted Alford pleas, which acknowledged that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict them but allowed them to maintain their innocence. An Alford plea allows you to resolve the criminal case without being found guilty in the civil case just based on the resolution of the criminal case alone. 15A-1340.16(e)(15). The Supreme Court rejected Alford’s argument that his plea was involuntary because it was “the product of fear and coercion” since he wanted to avoid the death penalty. Faced with the uncertainties of a retrial and a desire to be free after years of wrongful imprisonment, many defendants enter the plea. 1. So when faced with either freedom while admitting guilt or retrial and potentially going right back to prison, the choice is actually an easy one. There are many advantages not to rushing into pleading guilty or no contest to any criminal offense – and they should be carefully considered before pleading guilty or no contest. There are some practical advantages to taking an Alford plea beyond avoiding harsher punishment. Mr. Hudson contended that since he … Consequences of the Plea to the Defendant. This is especially true when the defendant has languished in solitary confinement on death row. While the Alford case that they have to accept a nolo contendre plea to the charge of attempted murder, there is no rule that forces the prosecution to offer a deal to a lesser charge and also accept a no contest plea. It has two practical advantages: for the defense, it can permit them to get the benefit of a plea bargain (usually a shorter prison term) without having to admit responsibility; for the prosecutor, it can … He was then released from prison on an “Alford plea.” The murder took place in 1987, and Thompson was found guilty of the murder then, along with another Baltimore man, James Owens. Consequences of the Plea to the Defendant. 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This is considered the same as pleading guilty as far as the conviction is concerned. The offer of this type of plea is a prime example of the injustice in the authority of the system that calls itself just. punishment) without first attesting to having committed the crime. An Alford plea allows defendant to plead guilty even while unable or unwilling to admit guilt. It is similar to the no contest in the acceptance of guilt, but the no contest is for a person that will accept punishment even if he or she does not admit guilt. Tired of spending decades in prison, he accepted the “bargain.” Prosecutors often negotiate as a result of several explanations. Advantages of Accepting a Plea Bargain. Does the US government have the power to change the days of the week? The judge sentenced Alford to a 30-year … An Alford plea in Nevada is when a defendant in a criminal case does not admit guilt but concedes there is sufficient evidence to find him/her guilty at trial. If so, apron what percentage? Therefore, a defendant's prior conviction via an Alford plea can be considered in future trials; and it will count as a "strike" if a three strikes law applies. CLN’s companion publication, PLN, previously reported on their case in December 2012. The Alford plea is a form of nolo contendereor "no contest" action. Generally, an Alford plea is when a defendant maintains his innocence but admits that the state has sufficient evidence to convict him and agrees to be treated as guilty. 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