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Lawmaker seeks to update plea bargains

It could become harder for defense attorneys and prosecutors to make plea bargains in felony sex offense cases in New York state.

Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr., R-Sag Harbor, recently introduced A.8803 in the state Assembly that would require any guilty plea to satisfy a felony sex offense charge include at least a guilty plea to a felony sex crime. Companion legislation, S.1338, has been introduced in the state Senate.

Similar legislation has been introduced in the state Legislature in the past six legislative sessions and never been passed.

“One of the major problems with our criminal justice system is that defendants charged with sex felony offenses are, for a variety of reasons, allowed to plead guilty to non-sex offenses,” Thiele wrote in his legislative justification for the bill. “As a result, these defendants are lost in the system. They are not treated as sex offenders. They are not required to undergo sex offender treatment or evaluation. They are released into the community without notification, although there is a great likelihood that they will re-offend. By not allowing defendants charged with sex felony offenses to plead out of a sex felony offense we will be able to prevent sex offenders from getting lost in the system.”

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