Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Dan Slater's, Wall Street Jrl post is titled, Zach Scruggs Gets 14 Months, Though Gov’t Suggested Probation, and the title says it all. Usually one receives a benefit for a guilty plea, and the prosecution wanted Zach Scruggs to receive that benefit when they asked that he receive a sentence of probation. From the prosecution's perspective it becomes difficult to get individuals to plead to a charge if the penalty will be comparable to what might be received if the accused went to trial. The value placed on giving up a jury trial is important to the prosecution as they are saving government resources through a plea. When individuals accused of crimes receive harsh penalties despite a guilty plea, they are more likely to risk a trial. But what isn't known in this specific case is what sentence the judge would have given Zach Scruggs if he had gone to trial and been convicted. It is possible that he would have received the maximum penalty allowed under law.
This case is an example of the high price one pays for criminal activity when he or she is a member of the legal profession. One is sometimes held to a higher standard. One can also suffer collateral consequences. Bricklayers walk out of prison as bricklayers, as do plumbers, carpenters, and many other lines of work. Lawyers seldom walk out of prison with a clear license to practice law. The cost for a lawyer may not only be a higher prison sentence, but also serious consequences to their license to practice law.