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2 men see sentences reduced for fatal car accidents

Two convicted Oklahoma drivers saw their sentences reduced on the same day after using the state's blind plea process. The sentence reductions happened in a Rogers County courtroom on April 21. One of the men had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for manslaughter in relation to a fatal drunk driving car accident. He had nine years of the sentence eliminated in a blind plea proceeding.

A blind plea is when a defendant works out a plea deal directly with the judge presiding over the case and skips negotiations with the district attorney. It can be used when a defendant feels that the deal offered by the district attorney is too harsh.

That's exactly what happened in one of these cases, according to the defendant's attorney. He said that the deal offered by the district attorney was excessive. He added that he thought the judge would take a more reasonable approach to the case and hand down a lighter sentence in exchange for a plea. The district attorney said that she had argued for the maximum sentence in each case but that the outcome was solely in the judge's hands.

The attorney for one of the defendants said that one of the reasons he pursued a plea deal is because it's difficult to know what will happen in a jury trial. The uncertainty surrounding a trial is often one of the reasons why defendants and prosecutors attempt to work out a deal prior to trial. In some cases, prosecutors may offer a deal with penalties that are harsh. In this case, the defendants and their attorneys were able to utilize another method to get a more appropriate sentence.

Source: FOX 23, "Rogers County DA comments on DUI sentence reductions", April 22, 2014

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