If you are facing criminal charges in South Dakota, it’s important to know your rights. This includes knowing whether or not you can face higher sentencing penalties for certain actions. If you are given the option of accepting a plea bargain and you refuse it, what happens next? This is an issue that activists across the country are trying to reform.
Bringing reform to the trial penalty
The phrase “trial penalty” refers to the prevalence of longer prison terms for people who choose a trial over a plea bargain. Many defendants who do so can end up with sentences up to three times longer.
Efforts to reform this pressing criminal defense issue are bringing together activists from both sides of the political spectrum. This includes groups as varied as the ACLU on the left to Right on Crime on the right. Their common goal is to reduce the chances that defendants may face these higher penalties.
However, their efforts to do so are coming up against obstacles. Local, state, and federal courts all have varying procedures and policies. As a result, the effort to minimize the “trial penalty” will need to take place on all of these fronts.
Which reforms are being lobbied for?
You may be facing more jail time as a result of turning down a deal to plead guilty to any number of charges. These may include charges related to drugs such as cocaine possession or trafficking. Regardless of the charges you face, it’s important to be aware of your options.
One of the most promising avenues of reform concerns reducing or eliminating the prevalence of mandatory minimum sentences. Doing so will give judges more scope to review the case and recommend less stringent penalties.
Future reforms could also remove language used in certain plea agreements that require defendants to waive some of their rights. If successful, this could lead to a higher degree of justice for those currently accused of crimes.