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How race plays a role in the justice system

If a person in Texas or anywhere else in America accepts a plea, it may mean reduced penalties compared to being found guilty at trial. However, accepting a plea also means that a person has a criminal conviction on his or her record. It also may mean dealing with other consequences that come with a criminal record or spending time on probation. Furthermore, research suggests that race may play a role in what type of plea terms are offered.

A study analyzed 30,807 misdemeanor cases in Wisconsin over a period of seven years in which a plea was offered. White defendants were 74 percent more likely to have charges that could send them to jail reduced or dismissed altogether. Even among those who had no criminal records, white defendants were likely to get better deals than black defendants.

A lot of the time, a person is likely to accept a plea based on whether or not bail may be offered. Those who may not get bail or be able to afford it may accept a plea simply for the right to go home. This is important because the same prosecutors that offer plea terms may have influenced the bail process as well in a given case. Again, research suggests that whites may have an advantage over black defendants when it comes to how bail is determined.

There may be long-term consequences of having a criminal record. For instance, it may be harder to get a job or accepted into a college or other educational program. Legal fees and other court costs may create a financial burden on a person that may take some time to recover from. Talking with a criminal defense lawyer may help an individual receive a favorable outcome in a case.

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