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What were Sandusky’s and Edwards’s Last Guilty Plea Offers?

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Why did John Edwards go to trial? Because he knew he would win? His hung jury on multiple counts shows a win was not a slam dunk. Because he believes in millions for defense (imagine his huge lawyer bill for this case) and not penny in tribute? Because he was not given the plea offer his lawyers requested? Regardless of the reason, with his dismissal after an acquittal on once count, in retrospect he made the right decision to plead innocent, although his wallet is all the lighter for it.

Why did Jerry Sandusky go to trial rather than entering a guilty plea? Talk about a real challenge for his lawyers. It might be one thing if his lawyers could present a compelling argument that all his accusers have book deals lined up, but his alleged victims’ testimony is corroborated by compelling testimony of additional witnesses against Sandusky. I imagine that the prosecutors made no plea offer involving less than many years in prison.

Sandusky is 68 years old. He probably preferred to roll the dice with a trial rather than to take any guilty plea that would keep him in prison a bunch of years or until his death.

One tool that prosecutors have to pressure guilty pleas is to indict for a torrent of counts. One reason why the death penalty will continue to be hard to eliminate in every state, is that charging a murder defendant with capital murder is more likely to get a guilty plea to non-capital murder than if the death penalty were not a risk.

Whenever a criminal defendant is charged with multiple counts, it is critical early on for his or her lawyer to advise on the most number of counts that might possibly be able to stick at the dismissal/acquittal motion stage and at the sentencing stage. Among the multitude of appellate court cases assisting in the analysis are the following more recent cases:

– Last month, the D.C. Court of Appeals confirmed that separate sentences are allowed with ˜an appreciable period of time'” between multiple criminal acts. Brannon v. U.S., ___ A.2d ___ (D.C., May 17, 2012).

– Last March, the New Mexico Court of Appeals addressed the standard for allowing multiple counts, or not, for downloading multiple unlawful sexual images. New Mexico v. Ballard, ___ N.M. App. ___ (March 8, 2012). The state Supreme Court has granted certiorari review of Ballard.