Thursday, August 16, 2007

If Vick Pleads Guilty

You can't turn on SportsCenter these days without seeing a federal courthouse or phalanx of attorneys toting heavy litigation bags.  The Michael Vick dog-fighting prosecution seems to be close to resolution, with his legal team helping him to decide whether to accept the government's plea offer.  According to a report on ESPN.com (here), the government's offer calls for a year in prison, which the Atlanta Falcons quarterback's lawyers are trying to get knocked down.  The government's offer would most likely call for a term of a year-and-a-day, which under the Bureau of Prisons guidelines would allow Vick to receive a 15% good time credit, reducing his sentence by 54 days to a bit over ten months.  Any sentence under a year that his attorneys are trying to negotiate would have to come in under ten months for it to be an advantage because there is no good time credit if the sentence is a year or less. 

A best-case scenario for Vick that the defense lawyers may be seeking is a double-nickel sentence: five months in prison, five months of home confinement.  Assuming Vick were sentenced by mid-November and began serving his term right away, this sentence would be over in mid-September 2008.  He could likely train during the home-confinement portion of the term -- assuming the electronic monitoring device does not interfere -- to be ready to play at least the second half of the 2008 football season.  Even a year-and-a-day sentence would involve a release by mid-September, although training for football would be difficult.  The NFL is likely to suspend him for a number of games, perhaps half the 2008 season, but that would coincide with the completion of the sentence and give him some time to get in shape.

If Vick decides to fight the charge, he may be reindicted on additional counts, which could result in a longer prison term if he is convicted.  A conviction may well result in a two to three year prison sentence, which could end his career in professional football.  The collateral consequences of a conviction will certainly be costly. (ph)

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