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Louisiana police chief gives up post in tampering plea deal

Understandably, a high priority for Baton Rouge defendants is avoiding prison. Just thinking about long-term consequences is distressing, but a strong criminal defense includes measures to prevent penalties throughout the legal process. An immediate concern for a defendant may be his or her freedom before trial. Negotiations between attorneys can eliminate or significantly reduce bail or charges. Plea agreements present an opportunity to shrink penalties down to a manageable size.

A Louisiana police chief lost his job but stayed out of prison after he was charged with abusing the power of his position. The chief of the Kentwood Police Department in Tangipahoa Parish was accused of taking money that was evidence.

State prosecutors said the ex-chief tampered with cash evidence related to a local burglary. The chief and another Kentwood officer retrieved $11,000 from law enforcers in another state - cash that was taken from a Kentwood residence in the spring of 2012. Two thousand dollars was unaccounted for, when police returned the homeowner's money.

The burglary victim's report of the missing money triggered a state police investigation. A month later, the Kentwood chief was arrested and charged with obstructing justice and malfeasance in office. After a September indictment, the chief pleaded not guilty. The official later agreed to change the plea, when the obstruction charge was dropped through negotiations with prosecutors.

Part of the agreement required the Kentwood chief to resign his position on the police force. The defendant also was required to pay restitution and court costs. A five-year prison term was suspended and replaced with probation.

The best legal outcome for a criminal defendant is to be cleared of all charges. Other victories can be still be won when absolution is not feasible. A criminal defense lawyer should be contacted at the earliest possible time to take advantage of all the legal rights you have.

Source: The Advocate, "Kentwood police chief resigns over tampering case" Robert Stewart, Jan. 15, 2014

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