Most criminal cases in Indiana end in a plea agreement, less than 5 percent of cases end up going to trial

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wtrv on 8/15/2022 by Kara Kenney

Wayne County prosecutors initially charged Phillip Lee in 2017 with six charges including Unlawful Possession of a Firearm By a Serious Violent Felon but prosecutors dismissed the firearm charge.

INDIANAPOLIS —The vast majority of criminal cases in Indiana are resolved through plea agreements, records show.

106,522 criminal cases were resolved through guilty pleas and admissions, according to 2021 Indiana trial court statistics.

By comparison, only 719 were disposed by a jury trial in 2021 and 3,078 via bench trial, state data shows.

The issue of plea agreements has come to the forefront once again because the suspect in the shooting of a Richmond police officer received a plea agreement in 2018.

Wayne County prosecutors initially charged Phillip Lee in 2017 with six charges including Unlawful Possession of a Firearm By a Serious Violent Felon but prosecutors dismissed the firearm charge as part of a plea agreement reached in 2018.

In the 2018 case, Lee pleaded guilty to possession of a syringe and possession of a narcotic and was sentenced to a total of 4 years.

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As part of that same sentencing, the judge found Phillip Lee to be a habitual offender, which added three years to his sentence.

IDOC records show was released from prison on 12/31/2021 after serving 3.5 years behind bars.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office has declined WRTV’s requests to discuss the 2018 case, but WRTV viewers have expressed frustration that Lee was out of prison despite a long track record of criminal offenses.

“He was like a stick of dynamite ready to explode,” wrote one WRTV Facebook user.

Plea agreements are the norm for resolving criminal cases in Wayne County as well, records show.