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A criminal defense strategy usually attempts to exploit weaknesses in the prosecution case against the accused. One of the goals is to win dismissal of the criminal charge or for the prosecutor handling the case to offer a reduced charge or a lighter sentence through a plea negotiation.

Sometimes, as in the case of a truck driver charged with aggravated criminally negligent homicide in the death of a state trooper from New York, both the prosecutor and the defense found their hands tied by the provisions of the law. The county district attorney admitted that his office was powerless to offer a reduced sentence in a plea negotiation because of the mandatory minimum prison sentence of three and a half years required under the statute.

The statute only applies to situations involving the death of a law enforcement officer. The same motor vehicle accident that claimed the life of the trooper would probably have resulted in a charge of criminally negligent homicide if the victim had not been a police officer.

Because the trooper was on duty at the time of the accident, and his status as a police officer was clear to the driver of vehicle that hit him, the facts warranted the more severe charge with the harsher sentence. Some observers speculated that the driver might have been sentenced to probation and avoided time in prison if the victim had been a civilian.

Plea negotiations to avoid the harsh penalties associated with some types of criminal charges are so common that it is unusual to have a prosecutor admit to having his hands tied by the mandatory sentencing structure of a state law. Because of the complexities and technicalities associated with criminal charges and a criminal trial, a Rockland criminal defense attorney might be of assistance if you are charged with committing a crime in New York.

Source: Times Union, “2005 law spelled prison for Canadian trucker,” Robert Gavin, Sep 10, 2015

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