Alaska state prosecutors will no longer negotiate plea deals for lesser sentences for Alaskans accused of serious crimes and domestic violence, reports the Anchorage Daily News. An Alaska Department of Law policy change that took effect this week bars plea bargains involving sentences for the most serious classes of felony cases, as well as all cases involving sexual assault, sexual abuse of a minor and domestic violence, said deputy attorney general Richard Svobodny.
About nine out of 10 criminal cases are settled through such agreements. Under the new policy, prosecutors can offer defendants the opportunity to be charged with a less serious crime. But they can’t offer a deal that changes the length of a sentence. Only a judge can do that. Attorneys say the policy could lead to higher criminal justice costs from more jury trials, prosecutions and incarceration.