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Black people may be treated more harshly by prosecutors

North Carolina residents may have heard that black people are disproportionately charged with crimes. A new study shows that black people also face worse treatment by prosecutors and the courts after they have been charged with criminal offenses.

A researcher at the Loyola Law School analyzed information that he gleaned from 30,807 cases in Wisconsin that were filed over a seven-year period. All of the cases were misdemeanor offenses. The researcher looked at the resolutions of the cases based on whether the defendants were black or white and found several startling things.

According to the study, whites were 74 times likelier to have their most serious charges dismissed or reduced than were black defendants. When the defendants did not have prior convictions, the whites were still much likelier to have their charges dropped than were the black defendants. Blacks who tended to be poor were also much less likely to be able to post bond, leading many to accept guilty pleas in an effort to get out of jail. Whites received lower bonds and were more likely to post them, allowing them time to find lawyers and to present more vigorous defenses to their charges.

The researcher says that the study shows that prosecutors use race as a determining factor for plea offers. This disparity in the treatment between white and black defendants is unconscionable. Experienced criminal defense lawyers may fight for their clients regardless of their race. If they believe that the prosecutors are offering worse offers or asking for higher bond amounts because their clients are black, the attorneys may file motions with the court to challenge the prosecutors' actions. With the help of criminal defense lawyers, people who are facing criminal charges might receive more favorable outcomes to their cases than they might have without legal representation.

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