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April 21, 2010

Sex Crimes And Civil Commitment

By Michael H. Joseph

The Supreme Court upheld the ability of the government to “commit” sex offenders to insane asylums. Often defendants in sex cases are pressured to take plea bargains, even if they are not guilty and even if the claims are questionable.

This new ruling makes criminal defendants charged with sex crimes think seriously about whether they want to accept a plea bargain. The new danger is that a plea bargain is no longer a bargain because the defendant will not get what they are promised.

Normally, sex offenses invoke strong emotions and the New York Courts tend to set high bail. As a consequence, defendants in New York charged with sex crimes remain incarcerated while the cases are pending. Then after a defendant has spent significant time in jail, they are offered a deal where they spent a short additional period of time in jail and if they turn down the deal of facing even more time in jail waiting for trial.

Under these circumstances, even innocent defendants accept plea bargains to get out of jail. Now, defendants must be careful because they may not get the short sentence they are promised. After being promised a short period of jail, sex crime defendants are being put in insane asylums. Now New York criminal defense lawyers must advise their clients who are charged with sex crimes of these real dangers prior to accepting a plea.

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