SHADMIA'S WORLD

Just Another Guy with Opinions

Let’s Make a Deal

Posted by shadmia on October 17, 2006

 

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Have you ever been caught up in the Justice System? I don’t necessarily mean charged with a serious crime (although this fits in as well) but maybe a parking ticket, a speeding ticket, a fine for littering, basically anything at all that potentially requires a trip to the courthouse? Most of us have.

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I was once pulled over for passing a stop sign. Of course I was innocent 🙂 which I tried to explain to the police officer (who gave me a ticket anyway 😦 ). On the ticket the procedures on how to plead innocent or guilty were explained. I was accused of a moving violation and if I pleaded guilty I would have to pay fine and have “points” applied to my license. This was not very appealing to me so I decided to plead not guilty and take the matter to court. I expected to have to go before the judge and explain why I was not guilty. I did not go with high expectations because my accuser was an officer of the law.

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I went to court on the appointed day, took my seat and waited for my turn. Before they could call me to see the judge the same police officer, who had given me the ticket, called me aside to discuss the matter. He explained that even though he thought I was guilty, he would give me a break if I was to plead guilty to a lesser charge. I would have to pay a small fine and there would be no points on my license. I agreed because I felt that the judge would be more likely to believe his story than mine, and after all I would have no points on my license. We went before the judge and I plead guilty to parking the car illegally. I paid the fine and left the courthouse with my license untouched. I felt very lucky and was happy I had decided to take the matter to court.

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This is what is called a plea bargain. In return for my guilty plea I received a less harsh punishment. However, as it turns out, the officer did not offer me this deal out of the kindness of his heart. He did it to expedite the case and still win a conviction. On the other hand I took the deal because I only ended up with a fine. The court went along with the deal so that the matter could be closed expeditiously. Everybody benefited. But was justice really served? Was an innocent man convinced to plead guilty. Did both the policeman and the court serve the law?

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State Troopers ( in New York State) are now powerless to make “deals” with motorists following the adoption of a new Police Policy which prohibits officers from reaching plea bargain agreements. This has prompted the introduction of new legislation and much discussion. One judge decided to dismiss all the tickets in front of him after the implementation of this new policy. This has landed him in trouble. However this matter is resolved, it seems likely that the police will not be so anxious to offer deals to motorists any more. I guess I was really lucky that my case came up before this new policy took effect.

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