Wednesday, August 19, 2015

From Subway Hero to Zero; Subway Pitchman Being Sentenced



Today, Jared Fogle, the pitchman for Subway is scheduled to plead guilty to a number of sex offenses, from possession of child pornography to having sex with minors. The standard prison sentence which he is scheduled to face pursuant to his plea deal is between five to 13 years, where the prosecutor will be asking the Court to impose the high end of 13 years and the defense can argue for no less than five years in prison. Along with a mandatory prison sentence, other conditions would be imposed by the Court, such as a sexual deviancy evaluation and follow up treatment, no contact with minors and having to register as a sex offender for an indefinite period of time. 

The news of his plea agreement may come as a surprise for many since he had not even been officially charged with a crime. He had been under investigation for several weeks after his home had been raided by local authorities. Presumably, after reviewing the evidence against him, Mr. Fogle’s attorney(s) began negotiating with the State Prosecutors in order to mitigate the consequences of his actions and come to an amicable plea bargain.  

As many as 90% of all criminal cases are settled by way of a plea bargain. One may ask, why are plea bargains so popular with both prosecutors and defense attorneys? For prosecutors, it means not having to prosecute the case which saves time and resources. For defense attorneys, it means potentially saving their client from more serious charges and jail time, which was likely the case in Mr. Fogle’s case. Finally, for defendants, it often means receiving a reduced sentence and resolving the matter quickly. Mr. Fogle most likely realized he would be facing many more years in prison, with additional charges that could have been added on. In order to avoid the stress of trial, and the possibility of facing even more years, he has made the decision to accept responsibility, serve his time and move on with his life. 

From the defense standpoint, there are many other benefits of plea bargaining. One of the primary reasons that defendants agree to plea bargains is simple anxiety. If a case goes to trial, they might get off, BUT they also might get the maximum sentence. Most people can't stand living in a state of constant anxiety and prefer certainty, so they sign plea agreements.

Furthermore, a big reason for agreeing to a plea bargain is to avoid jail time. Not having to go to jail and live with the stigma associated with it, and not being separated from family and friends is a huge incentive to sign a plea agreement. In Mr. Fogle’s case, he will still be serving many years in prison, but compared to the additional number of years he could have been looking at based on his conduct, five to 13 years in prison with the possibility of early release, appears to be a reasonable outcome.
The most common form of plea bargain, a reduction in the severity of the charge, is a great benefit to a defendant. A lesser charge looks better on a permanent record, won't have as serious an impact on future convictions (especially in "three strikes" states) and may not exclude the defendant from a variety of things that those convicted of more serious charges are prohibited from doing.

Moreover, as is the circumstance in Mr. Fogle’s case, sometimes the prosecutor does not lower the charge, but rather lessens the sentence sought to something below the maximum allowed sentence for a crime. While not nearly as advantageous as a reduction in the charge, the difference in sentencing can be a matter of years and crucially important to a defendant.

One of the the most practical reason plea bargains are sought is simply to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and move on. It may not be the most "just" outcome, but many defendants simply want to move on with their life. Mr Fogle’s attorney(s) were able to resolve his case even before charges were even filed. With this plea agreement, the State Prosecutors will be filing the exact charges on the very same day. Mr. Fogle will be pleading guilty. Although this is uncommon in most criminal proceedings there are several reasons why he made this decision to expedite his case. The most likely reason for him is to avoid the continuous publicity by the media. One of the biggest tools prosecutors or defendants can use is the media. As a result, many defendants simply want to keep the matter quiet, without dragging the case out in front of the public. Jared Fogle’s case has already achieved a tremendous amount of media scrutiny, but after his plea and sentencing, the publicity would be expected to die down after he begins serving his prison commitment.

Not everyone agrees that plea bargains are really a good deal for defendants, especially where many of the considerations seem to favor time, expense and convenience over justice. Finally, many defendants agree to plea bargains simply out of fear or ignorance in which case no one is well served - the system or the defendant.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.

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