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Criminal Defense Archives

How can I get my sentence reduced?

If you’ve been charged with a crime, you may be feeling hopeless at the prospect of spending a certain amount of your future behind bars. However, while the law assigns certain penalties to certain types of crimes, there is still some flexibility for reducing your sentence—both before and after conviction.

Understanding double jeopardy and its exceptions 

Double jeopardy is an important protection to understand. Under the Fifth Amendment, an individual cannot be tried twice for the same crime. This means that if you went to trial and were acquitted, the prosecution can’t try the same case against you again. It also means that you can’t be punished twice for the same crime.

Why it could pay to get a makeover before you go to court

Attractive people get the advantages in life. Statistically, they tend to land better jobs and earn higher salaries. But a recent study shows that attractive defendants also tend to win the sympathy from jurors more often than their unattractive counterparts.

The recidivism algorithm: a biased sentencing tool?

You may be under the impression that the sentence a defendant receives in court is based on legal guidelines which attach a certain type of crime to a certain amount of prison time. That’s not entirely true. A mathematical tool is also used to determine recidivism—that is, the likelihood that a convicted criminal will commit another offense within two years. The higher the score the recidivism algorithm produces, the longer the defendant’s sentence. The problem is: the math is biased against black people.

Does your case have grounds for appeal?

If you were charged with a criminal offense and found guilty, it’s important to understand that a guilty verdict does not have to be the end of the road for you. Under some circumstances, you may be eligible to appeal the ruling—that is, to convince a higher court to review your case for some error in the trial proceedings in the hope that they will overturn your conviction or reduce your sentence.

The problem with eyewitness testimony

DNA testing has played a huge role in how cases are tried and how defendants are convicted. Since this forensic analysis has been introduced into the trial process, it has shed light on a huge problem in our criminal justice system: the inaccuracy of eyewitness reports. Of the hundreds of cases in which convicts have been exonerated through DNA testing, more than 70 percent of these involved eyewitness misidentification.

Treatment of defendants: the layered racial disparities

According to a recent study on demographic prison data from 2016, the U.S. Sentencing Commission discovered that black men receive 20 percent more prison time than white men for the same crime—even when the data is analyzed in terms of the offenders’ violent histories.

Could a 'tweet' deprive a defendant of a fair trial?

Much has been said this year about President Trump’s propensity to speak his mind, particularly through Twitter. His tweets have been fodder for controversy on things he likes (i.e. support for certain political candidates, his political relationship with China) as well as things that frustrate him (NFL player protests, disaster relief in Puerto Rico).

Why some defendants plead guilty when they may not have to

Much is said about the problems with our criminal justice system, especially its effect upon people of color and the poor. Those who cannot afford to post bail and go free until their next hearing date (or trial) are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to defending the charges against them and preparing to resume life as they once knew it after being released (if they are released at all).

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Darryl A. Goldberg
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