How Arizona Prison Workers Escaped Jail Time for Sex Crimes

Earlier this month, it was reported that 13 prison supervisors accused of committing rapes and other sexual-related crimes against prisoners under their watch were each offered plea deals that included a reduction in the severity of their charges and a sentence of probation as opposed to incarceration in prison or jail. These plea deals were all allegedly arranged without informing the victim-prisoners of the plea discussions (according to the report, while the Arizona Constitution and its Victims’ Bill of Rights require victims of crimes to be notified about plea negotiations, prisoners are specifically excluded from the Victims’ Bill of Rights). Aside from the victim-inmates themselves who are alleging preferential treatment to the prison supervisors, these facts have led some to question how thirteen individuals, each accused of committing one or more sexual acts against a prisoner under their care, were able to obtain such favorable sentences. For for informaiton contact the experienced Arizona criminal attorneys at Ariano & Reppucc, PLLC.

Facts in Favor of a Reduction in Charges or Favorable Disposition According to the prosecutor’s office handling the cases, each of the thirteen defendants qualified to be offered a reduction of their charges and a more favorable disposition because they did not have any prior criminal convictions. According to the office’s spokesman, had the thirteen defendants each gone to trial and been convicted of the original charges, they still would have obtained a sentence of probation or supervision as opposed to incarceration. Aside from the absence of a criminal conviction, prosecutors’ offices throughout Arizona are able to consider additional facts and circumstances in deciding what plea agreement – if any – to offer to a particular defendant. These include: The age and maturity of the offender at the time of the offense
Whether the crime (as here) involved one person in a position of trust or responsibility took advantage of another person under his or her care;
The extent of harm suffered by the victim;
Publicity and/or public opinion surrounding the case;
Remorse or guilt shown by or expressed by the defendant
The prosecution’s estimation of the strength of its case against the defendant
The likelihood that the defendant will commit the same crime again; and
Any other relevant factor the prosecution wishes to consider.

Although the Victims’ Bill of Rights gives victims the right to be heard concerning negotiated plea agreements as well as an opportunity to be heard at a sentencing or dispositional hearing, neither the Victims’ Bill of Rights nor any other law or regulation requires the prosecution to follow the wishes of the victim in deciding whether or not to prosecute the case.
Can a Prosecutor Offer Codefendants Two Different Pleas?
The prosecutor enjoys a great deal of discretion in crafting a plea agreement. This is why it is often helpful to have an attorney representing you during plea negotiations so that favorable
facts and circumstances are brought to the prosecutor’s attention and any
negative or hurtful facts are minimized.  Find out more by contacting Ariano & Reppucci, PLLC.  Although a prosecutor may offer codefendants who are both charged with criminal acts arising from a single incident the same plea agreement, a prosecutor does not need to do so. A prosecutor can offer Codefendant A a reduction in charges and a sentence of probation while insisting that Codefendant B plead to the charges as filed – even if Codefendant B’s charges are identical to the charges originally filed against Codefendant A.

One may never know whether the thirteen prison supervisors received the favorable outcome they did because of the legal counsel they retained or because of their relationship and familiarity to the prosecutor’s office. This story, however, does emphasize how certain facts can affect the ultimate outcome of your case.  Click here for more info.

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