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September 1, 2021
A former Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office deputy pleaded guilty to attempted rape and battery charges in July and was subsequently sentenced to three years in state prison.
The former deputy pleaded guilty in a plea hearing to one count each of battery and of attempted sexual battery on a person over 18, according to Palm Beach County court records.
The judge sentenced the man to concurrent three-year sentences, giving the former deputy credit for 43 days served in the Palm Beach County Jail.
He was also designated a sexual predator and ordered to pay $528 in court costs.
This plea came two years after the man was given a new trial when an appeals court overturned his conviction from 2018 where he was sentenced to 8 years in prison.
A jury previously found the 42-year-old man guilty of battery and of attempted sexual battery. He was able to secure house arrest while he appealed the conviction.
The man was accused in 2016 of attempting to rape a woman in her Greenacres-area home. The woman told police that the deputy came back to her home after visiting her residence earlier to investigate an argument between the woman and her landlord.
The woman claimed that when the deputy came back, he tried touching her in a sexual manner and tried to rape her. She said that he stopped when he realized he did not have a condom, according to her report to police.
In his previous trial, the man testified that he went to check on the woman after he thought he saw her landlord’s vehicle return to the community. He said the woman made advances towards him, but he pushed her away.
The 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that the judge should have declared a mistrial after the man’s accuser made a statement regarding DNA evidence that the court agreed to exclude. The appeals court said that the comment deprived the man of receiving a fair trial, which may have led to his conviction.
The case was scheduled for a new jury trial beginning July 26.
What is a Plea Deal?
A plea deal or plea bargain is a very common way for criminal cases to be resolved quickly. A plea deal happens when the prosecution and defense make negotiations and ultimately agree on an outcome to resolve the case. There are numerous reasons why defendants may choose to accept a plea deal, but the most common reason is that criminal trials can be unpredictable and may result in harsher consequences than what can be arranged in a plea deal. Criminal trials can take a large amount of time and resources to resolve, so many judges and prosecutors seek alternative ways to speed up a resolution, which is why plea bargains are very common. Plea deals are estimated to be used in 90% of criminal cases. Plea deals often result in lesser sentences/punishments for the defendant.
Plea deals must be accepted by a judge during a sentencing hearing. Many judges will reduce sentences or take recommendations from the prosecution because the defendant is pleading guilty and taking responsibility for their actions.
Once the plea deal is accepted, the defendant forfeits their right to a trial. The judge will make sure the defendant is aware of this when they enter a guilty plea. With that said, it can be very hard to appeal a plea bargain.
Why Do People Accept Plea Bargains?
As we stated previously, trial outcomes can be wildly unpredictable. There are no guarantees on what the outcome will be, so you are taking a risk by taking your case to trial. Plea bargains can result in a predictable outcome and gives a defense attorney the option to negotiate for a reduced sentence. This can mean that the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser crime or fewer charges. Plea deals can also help defendants avoid the publicity of a trial. Trials can also be time consuming and costly, so many defendants just do not have the resources to take a big risk and just opt to accept a deal and move on with their lives.
Our South Florida Sex Crimes Lawyers at Whittel & Melton Can Help You Understand Your Legal Options
Accepting a plea deal is a very personal choice and one that you should not take lightly. Our South Florida Sex Crimes Lawyers at Whittel & Melton will help you understand what your best options are and provide you with honest feedback so that you can make an informed decision regarding your criminal charges. If you are facing a sex crime charge in Palm Beach, Broward, Martin, Miami-Dade, or Monroe Counties, then contact us immediately online or call (561) 367-8777 for a free consultation.