Monday, August 20, 2007

Vick Will Plead Guilty

Michael Vick has agreed to plead guilty to charges related to a dog-fighting operation on his property in Virginia, according to a report on ESPN.com (here).  A plea hearing is scheduled for August 27 for Vick to admit to the conspiracy charge on which he was indicted on July 17, and sentencing will likely be set for about three months later.  It is not clear what sentence will be recommended by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines because the conspiracy charge includes both a violation of the federal dog fighting statute (7 U.S.C. Sec. 2156), for which there is not a specific sentencing provision, and to assist in an unlawful enterprise involving gambling.  For the latter charge, Sec. 2E3.1 would provide for a base offense level of 12, and prosecutors could argue for an enhancement for a leadership role in the offense, which would add four level to bring the total to 16.  If there is a two-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility, that would put Vick's sentence in a range of 15 to 21 months in a federal prison, and he would have to serve 85% of the sentence, most likely a bit over one year.  If Vick's attorneys were able to negotiate a Guidelines calculation -- which would not be binding on the Judge -- that did not include the four-level enhancement for his role in the offense, then he could have a score of 10, which would have a 6 to 12 month sentencing range.  More importantly, a Guidelines offense level of 12 or less would allow the court to give him a split sentence, which might allow for a period of home confinement during which he could train for a possible return to the NFL.  Once the sentencing ramifications are clear, then the issue will be how long the NFL will suspend Vick.  Moreover, Vick's criminal legal troubles are not over because the Virginia state prosecutors can still pursue charges against him for the dog-fighting operation. (ph)

                                                                              

UPDATE: According to an AP story (here), the government will recommend a sentence of 12 to 18 months for Vick.  A discussed in an earlier post (here), if Vick receives a sentence of a year-and-a-day, he will be out in a little over ten months -- just in time for the second half of the 2008 season?  That will depend on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.  (ph)

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