The Trial Penalty is the substantial difference between the sentence offered prior to trial versus the sentence a defendant received or could have received after trial if found guilty. The threat of a vastly increased sentence after trial induces many accused persons to waive valuable constitutional rights in order to avoid the penalty.

How have you or a client been impacted by the trial penalty?

Thank you for the participating in this survey. The stories NACDL collects will be used to illustrate the corrosive impact of the trial penalty and promote a national reform effort to preserve the Sixth Amendment right to a trial. Your story will help us gain valuable information about the experiences of individuals faced with substantially different potential sentences depending upon whether they sought to exercise their Sixth Amendment right to trial.

Your Information

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1. What is your name?

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2. What is your email address?

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3. Does the situation you describe below relate to you personally or to a client?

Case Information

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4. If the conviction was by plea, besides giving up the right to a trial, what other rights were waived?

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5. If the conviction was by plea, what was the sentence imposed under the plea and the potential and/or threatened sentence if a guilty plea was not entered?

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6. If the conviction was after trial, what was the sentence and what plea offer was declined?

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7. Is there a substantial possibility that the convicted individual was innocent?

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8. In what jurisdiction was the conviction?

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9. What were the specific offense(s) and the date of the conviction?

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10. If there was an acquittal after trial, what was (i) the potential and/or threatened sentence and (ii) any plea offer declined, and were there any similarly situated defendants?

Comments

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11. Is there any other information or comments you wish to share with us?

How your information will be used

NACDL appreciates the information you have provided regarding your experience in the criminal justice system. While NACDL cannot guarantee the use of any particular story, NACDL will also contact you to ensure that the information used in NACDL’s research, reporting, website, press releases, or any other materials associated with the project is accurate.

Again, NACDL thanks you for participating in a process which we hope will assist in addressing the problem of the Trial Penalty and the erosion of the Sixth Amendment Right to Trial.

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