Michael Vick Accused of Executing Dogs: Should He Take the Plea Deal?
Posted on Aug 17, 2007 in Celebrity Justice, Sports
Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick’s pals ratted him out this morning. (Read their 12-page written statement here.) His two dogfighting business partners accepted a plea bargain, and as part of their deal, offered up evidence that Vick executed dogs who failed to pass preliminary test fight standards by electrocuting, hanging, or drowning them. With this deal, Vick is left standing as the sole defendant in the federal criminal case.
Vick’s got a deadline today to take a deal, too – with a recommendation of one year in jail – or go forward, alone, to stand trial on all these charges. Specifically, Michael Vick has been already charged with conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and conspiring to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture. These charges have mandatory punishments under the sentencing guidelines established under federal law, and carry a maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine. Executing the dogs? More charges can be added.
Should he take the deal?
If Vick’s totally innocent and squeaky clean here, and can prove it, then he should take his chances with a jury. However, if he’s not totally innocent AND totally confident that he’s got sufficient admissible evidence to prove it, then he should take the plea. One year is a lot less than five, and he’s got the money to pay the fine.
Federal law tries to achieve uniformity in punishment by setting up standardized sentences. You do crime X, you get sentence Y, no matter who you are, where you live, rich, poor, race, sexual orientation, celebrity status – you get the idea. If the federal prosecutors can prove their case, then you will serve time. No way around it.
However, if Vick takes the plea deal, the sentencing guidelines will allow for less punishment because of his “acceptance of responsibility” — which will lower his sentencing score under these federal sentencing guidelines. That standard 4 year sentence can get moved down to one year. Taking responsibility for one’s actions gets rewarded under the guidelines.
So, if you know you can’t win at trial, then 1 year is a lot better than 4. The possible new charges go away. Take the plea.�