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Criminal Justice Reform: Reducing the Number of Laws on the Books

August 24, 2018, on Criminal Defense Articles |

Recently, there was a White House conference on criminal justice reform. There is universal agreement that the criminal justice system in the United States needs to be reformed, although there is disagreement on the right approach to take. Reforms are necessary because of a mass incarceration problem in the United States and because many of the criminal laws on the books result in defendants being subject to overly harsh penalties.

An Albany felony attorney can provide help to those who have been accused of wrongdoing and who are facing charges. Deciding how to respond when under investigation or while being prosecuted can be difficult, but it is essential to take the right approach in order to get the best outcome possible. This could mean negotiating a plea agreement or it could mean fighting charges in court.

One of the problems with the criminal justice system is that too many people agree to plea deals because they fear they will be subject to harsher penalties if they take their case to trial. Another issue, however, is that there are simply too many things that have been made illegal. A law professor recently published an article in USA Today arguing that too many laws is the problem and suggesting that reducing the number of crimes on the books could be a key part of criminal justice reform.

Criminal Justice Reform Could Involve Reducing the Number of Laws on the Books

According to the USA Today article, there are so many types of behavior that have been classified as crimes, it's impossible for even prosecutors to keep track of all of the offenses on the books. And, the more types of conduct that have been criminalized, the more potential criminals are created.

Simply being charged with a crime puts a defendant in a difficult position, even if the defendant is not convicted of any offense. A defendant is put into a position to cover the costs of a defense, which can be a financial burden. And, defendants face very strong pressure to accept plea agreements even in circumstances where they are innocent. This pressure comes from prosecutors who tend to charge those accused of wrongdoing with many serious crimes, counting on the fact that someone facing dozens of felony charges will be too scared to fight in court because of fear of conviction.

Prosecutors have discretion over whether to charge defendants with one of a vast number of crimes on the books, and there are essentially no constitutional protections in place limiting what a prosecutor can charge you with although you do have due process rights if you go to trial.

Although there is a strong desire on the part of politicians on both sides of the aisle to put criminal justice reforms in place, members of different political parties are having difficulty deciding on the best approach to reform. Until compromises are found, it is unclear whether positive changes will end up being made. An Albany felony attorney can provide help to those who have been accused of wrongdoing and who must navigate within the current system to try to protect their futures.

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