Today a new report by Human Rights Watch titled “An Offer You Can’t Refuse” revealed that only three percent of U.S. drug defendants in federal cases chose to go to trial instead of pleading guilty in 2012. The report explains that the reason only three percent go to trial is because prosecutors warn defendants that if they refuse the plea and go to trial, they will be charged with a more series crime and end up with a much longer sentence.
Prosecutors live and die for convictions and they use mandatory minimum sentencing as a prosecutorial tool to secure convictions and get people to plead guilty without getting their right to a fair trial.
People’s fear of angering prosecutors by going to trial is real. The reports shows that defendants who chose to exercise their constitutional rights to go to trial routinely face sentences three times greater than the original plea deals. This is an astounding revelation.
I know the pressure to take a deal and the disastrous consequences of taking my case to trial. In 1985 I refused a plea deal of three years and end up being sentenced to 15 years to life under the mandatory provisions of New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws.
I was duped into delivering an envelope containing four ounces of cocaine for $500 by a bowling buddy. During the criminal proceedings the district attorney’s office discovered I was not a drug dealer but nevertheless, they wanted to secure a conviction.
– Read the entire article at Drug Policy Alliance.