Tuesday, July 29 2014 12:56 PM EDT2014-07-29 16:56:27 GMT
Israeli aircraft, tanks and navy gunboats pounded symbols of Hamas control in Gaza City in the heaviest night of bombardment in three weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting.Full Story >
Israel on Tuesday unleashed its heaviest bombardment in a 3-week-old war against Hamas, striking symbols of the militant group's control in Gaza and firing tank shells that Palestinian officials said shut down the...Full Story >
Tuesday, July 29 2014 12:56 PM EDT2014-07-29 16:56:02 GMT
The NCAA has agreed to settle a class-action head injury lawsuit by creating a $70 million fund to diagnose thousands of current and former college athletes to determine if they suffered brain trauma playing...Full Story >
The NCAA agreed Tuesday to settle a class-action head-injury lawsuit by creating a $70 million fund to diagnose thousands of current and former college athletes to determine if they suffered brain trauma playing football,...Full Story >
Tuesday, July 29 2014 12:39 PM EDT2014-07-29 16:39:24 GMT
European Union ambassadors are meeting to discuss a dramatic toughening of the trade bloc's sanctions against Russia.Full Story >
Frustrated by the apparent ineffectiveness of previous sanctions and outraged by the deaths of 298 people aboard the Malaysia Airlines plane downed over eastern Ukraine, the European Union adopted tough new economic...Full Story >
Tuesday, July 29 2014 12:37 PM EDT2014-07-29 16:37:19 GMT
A flight headed for Dayton had to make an emergency landing Monday night. Delta Flight 6093 left from LaGuardia Airport (LGA) around 9 a.m., according to Flight Aware. It was originally supposed to takeFull Story >
A flight headed for Dayton had to make an emergency landing Monday night.Full Story >
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -
Despite what you see on TV, jury trials are rare in Virginia. Most people are just pleading guilty.
"Actually, very few cases in Virginia are resolved by trial by jury," said NBC12 legal analyst Steven Benjamin.
"Plea bargaining and guilty pleas really in practice, they are the criminal justice system," said University of Richmond professor and former prosecutor Corrina Lain.
Even the Supreme Court said so in a decision late last summer. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote: "The reality is that plea bargains have become so central to the administration of the criminal justice system...."
"If every case went to trial, there's no way we'd be able to function," said Benjamin.
According to preliminary numbers from the State Supreme Court, there were nearly 186,000 criminal cases in Virginia last year.
Only one percent of the cases went to a jury. More than half (52%) of all these cases ended in a plea deal.
The constitution protects your right to a jury, so why don't more people ask for one? Well, jury trials are time consuming and can be costly for taxpayers. The Defense has another reason:
"Because if you are convicted of a jury, you stand to be punished much more harshly than by a judge," said Benjamin.
In Virginia, what you get from a jury is your sentence - it's the penalty set up by lawmakers.
"Juries are risky. You're really rolling the bones with a jury - when you ask for a jury on a 20-to-life crime and they find you guilty, you're going to get a minimum of 20 years," said Lain.
Benjamin argues our plea deal criminal culture is promoting misconceptions. "There's a very strong belief on the streets that's if it's your word against, say, a police officer's word, you don't have a chance. You may as well plead guilty and hope for the best," said Benjamin.
The vast majority in the criminal justice system are minority, male and poor, and the days are gone where guilty pleas just meant jail time and a fine. Even minor convictions can stick with you forever - affecting voting rights, your job opportunities, your ability to get a loan for a house, even your right to stay in the country.
"These days, most convictions have consequences that go far beyond incarceration and punishment," said Benjamin.
But Lain says, as a former prosecutor, the vast majority of people plead guilty because they are in fact just that.
"Everyone pleads guilty because there's evidence on the table and they think that they're going down. That's why you plead guilty, because you think you can do better there than you could at trial," said Lain.
Monday, July 28 2014 6:12 PM EDT2014-07-28 22:12:32 GMT
Damage was reported in several areas of Highland County Sunday night after a strong storm went through the area. According to the National Weather Service, numerous trees and power lines were blown downFull Story >
Damage was reported in several areas of Highland County Sunday night after a strong storm went through the area.Full Story >