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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney trial penalty

Being charged with any type of crime in the state of Connecticut can be a scary and anxiety-ridden experience for many people, especially if this is your first time being involved in the criminal justice system. Many people have an idea in their head of how the process works from watching movies and television shows, but the actual criminal prosecution process is much different. In fact, most cases involving criminal charges do not even go to trial. Many times, prosecutors will end up offering the defendant a plea agreement, which would require a guilty plea in exchange for a lesser sentence than they would receive if they dispute the charges. However, this has created a new issue, dubbed the trial penalty.

Understanding Trial Penalties

If you are formally charged with a crime, you will then have the option of pleading guilty or not guilty. A majority of the time, a “not guilty” plea will result in the prosecutor offering you a plea deal, which is an agreement that typically requires you to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence than what you would likely receive if you proceeded to trial. The difference between the sentences is often staggering, too, forcing defendants to take deals for fear of risking longer sentences.


penalty, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyWhen you think about a person who has been charged with a crime, you are likely to picture a defendant sitting in a courtroom while a prosecutor presents his or her case on behalf of the state or federal government. The defendant’s attorney, in this scenario, will have the opportunity to refute the government’s claims and raise reasonable doubts about his or her client’s guilt. Of course, this mental image is one of a criminal trial, but trends in criminal law over the last 50 years have forced criminal trials to the brink of extinction. In fact, a new report by a national lawyers’ group suggests that the stakes of going to trial have become so outrageously high that the right to a jury trial guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Sixth Amendment has been largely compromised.

A Troubling Report

Earlier this month, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) released the findings of a report titled The Trial Penalty: The Sixth Amendment Right to Trial on the Verge of Extinction and How to Save It. The report examined the dramatic differences in sentences offered to criminal defendants during plea bargain negotiations and those imposed after a criminal trial. This difference is what the report refers to as the “trial penalty.”

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