The Plea Bargain

 

The Plea Bargain…….

Our legal system doesn’t offer much “justice” for those who are victims of sexually based offenses.  The process often leaves the victim and their families feeling as if the penalty imposed was not commensurate to the crime. After all, how does one sexually abuse another human being, a child no less, and the parents are asked to accept an agreement that allows the criminal to spend far less time in jail than the crime actually warranted?

In our case, the DA presented us with a proposed plea bargain that would require our daughter’s abuser to agree to a measly five years in jail. It was presented to us as the best alternative because there was no guarantee he would be found guilty if the case went to trial. We were also pushed to accept this agreement as a way of protecting our daughter from the additional trauma of more court appearances that would require her to testify in front of a jury.

Needless to say, it was a difficult decision because we wanted him to get the maximum sentence. However, we struggled with the thought of whether she could and should endure a trial, and agonized over the fact that it was possible that one juror could derail the entire process and this monster would go free!

In the end we agreed to allow the DA to move forward with offering a plea bargain, but the whole thing never sat well with us.  We knew the law would require him to serve 85% of his time in jail, but that was only 4 years, and in our minds, that wasn’t nearly enough time for the crime. Not to mention that he confessed and it seemed unfathomanable that a jury of twelve wouldn’t find him guilty. But the plea bargain was presented as the best option to ensure that he at least served some jail time.

Of course every case is different and there are definitely mitigating circumstances that determine the direction the DA goes with a case. But, for us, it just seemed that the legal system was geared far less toward the criminal getting the sentence that he deserved, and far more about wrapping these cases up in nice tidy little bow so the respective attorneys’ records weren’t tarnished and they didn’t have to deal with the uncertainty of a trial.

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