Questionable: Why are multiple charges dropped?
Each week we answer questions our readers have asked. What do you really want to know? Drop us a line; maybe we can help.
“I read the government section of the weekly paper, and people with multiple charges always get some of them dropped. How can people get away with these charges?”
– Beverly, Rhinelander
The Star Journal asked Oneida County District Attorney Michael Bloom. Bloom responded:
“There are, generally speaking, three main reasons why some charges are ‘dropped’ when a criminal defendant enters guilty or no contest pleas to one or more of the charges against them.
“Charges dismissed as part of a plea agreement are often treated as ‘read-ins.’ When a charge is treated as a ‘read-in,’ it is an effective admission to the crime by the defendant, and allows the judge to consider the read-in offense at sentencing and also allows the judge to order restitution for the read-in offense. An example would be when a defendant is charged with multiple counts of burglary, if he or she pleads guilty to some of the counts, the others will be dismissed, but treated as read-ins. When a defendant is sentenced for both convictions and read-ins, though, the maximum penalty will be limited to the conviction offenses, the sentence can be based on all the offenses.
“In other cases, defendants may be charged with two offenses that arise out of the same conduct. A common example is when someone is alleged to have gotten into a fight, they will often be charged with both battery and disorderly conduct. If it is determined that a single conviction will provide a just result under the circumstances, and if the defendant is willing to plead guilty or no contest to one of the counts, the other will sometimes be dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
“Finally, there are many cases where further investigation occurs after the initial filing of charges. Sometimes further investigation reveals that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed all of the counts that he or she has been charged with. In these cases, it is not uncommon for a prosecutor to propose that such charges be dismissed, if the defendant is willing to plead guilty or no contest to the charges which are supported by stronger evidence.
“There are many reasons why some charges are dismissed as part of plea agreements. However, more often than not, dismissal of charges as part of a plea agreement will be for one of the above three reasons”
Editor’s note: Send in your questions to Starjournal@jcpgroup.com, or mail them to the Star Journal, 24 W. Rives St., P.O.?Box 558 Rhinelander, WI?54501.