What Is the “Trial Penalty” in Connecticut Criminal Cases?

 Posted on September 30,2020 in Criminal Law

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.

Take a recent case involving a young man who faced drug charges in Pennsylvania. The man faced charges of possession with intent to deliver and conspiracy to deliver and was offered a plea deal that would have required him to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of just over two years in prison. Instead of taking the deal, the man decided to take his case to trial and ended up being sentenced with six to 12 years for possession and five to 10 years for conspiracy, to be served consecutively. Simply because he decided to exercise his right to a trial, his two-year sentence was turned into an 11- to 22-year sentence.

How to Combat the Issue

The National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) has stated that there are a number of reasons why the trial penalty exists and that it is not just simply one reason. There are various changes that the NACDL recommends to be made in the criminal justice system for a more fair and free system. These changes include:

  • Repealing mandatory minimum sentencing for crimes or creating a “safety valve” that would allow judges to justify a sentence below the minimum in certain individual circumstances

  • Allowing defendants to have full access to all relevant evidence, including exculpatory information before they enter into a guilty plea

  • Not allowing the government to condition plea agreements with a requirement that the defendant waive their constitutional rights

  • Requiring courts to take a second look at lengthy sentences to ensure they are proportionate to the crime

Contact an East Hartford, CT Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you have been charged with a crime, it is crucial that you get help from a skilled Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. It is possible that the prosecutor assigned to your case will offer you a plea deal. The experienced attorneys at the Woolf Law Firm, LLC have negotiated hundreds of plea deals for their clients who have been charged with various crimes. Our skilled legal team will examine the facts of your case and determine whether or not you should accept a plea deal or proceed to trial with your case. To arrange a free consultation, call our office today at 860-290-8690.







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