Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Fredericksburg Virginia Editorial: What are all these Alford pleas about?

Every reader here knows what “all the Alford Pleas are about”! (See below editorial)

In Virginia with sexual assault, sexual battery and many other sex crimes…. the accusation IS the EVIDENCE. 

Virginia Code was rewritten years ago (Rape Shield Laws) and the words no corroboration is required was added, to lower the burden of proof that the prosecution must provide. And then years after that Virginia Code has been re-written and re-written again raising the penalty for these crimes to a prison sentence of Life Plus 20 years. LIFE Plus 20 in a State with NO Parole! Mandatory Minimums like these tie the judges/juries hands if the case actually goes to trial and if a finding of guilt is handed down there can be no wiggle-room, it’s “Life Plus 20”. 

More than 94% of criminal charges/convictions NEVER make it to trial in Virginia; they are settled with a plea deal. 

Not because the person charged is guilty but because they are facing charges that do NOT require the Prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and a mandatory minimum hangs over their head.

Going to trial in America for a sex crime has actually turned into a no-win-situation for the average person.

Unless you can afford a $100,000+ attorney who will actually invest the time and effort to prove your innocence because the Prosecution isn’t required to prove your guilt you are forced to take any offer that is given no matter how unjust it is. 

And if you don’t take “the deal” offered I know for a fact that some Commonwealth Attorneys threaten to release the mug shot, name, home address and charges of the Virginian facing sex crimes to the local evening news broadcast……What else does an innocent person who doesn’t have $100,000+ for a competent defense do?

They take the Alford plea!!!!!!!!!! Instead of facing the court-of-public-opinion that will most likely result in the loss of their job and possibly their home all while they attempt to defend themselves (and their family) against a crime that “requires no corroboration” you can’t do that without income and a home. 

94% of criminal convictions in the Commonwealth end with a plea deal; it’s a win-win for the State and the Prosecutors resume, but not for our citizens or for justice! 

Mary Devoy

Editorial: What are all these Alford pleas about? April 1, 2015

Every week somewhere in the Fredericksburg area, a defendant pleads guilty in a criminal court while at the same time claiming to be innocent.

It’s called an Alford plea, and it’s become routine in the courts of Virginia. News reports about such pleas are usually accompanied by an almost boilerplate explanation that the accused does not admit guilt, but acknowledges there is sufficient evidence to be convicted.