Today Rebecca Rubin pled guilty to arson and conspiracy charges, but refused to turn over the names of other people who were involved in the actions she took in the name of the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. She will serve at least five years in prison, with the exact amount of time to be decided by U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken at Rubin’s sentencing on January 27, 2014. The prosecution is apparently seeking a terrorism enhancement, which could mean an upward departure in Rubin’s sentence.
Rubin’s plea agreement was reached after many months of argument and discussion between Rubin’s attorney and the Assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case. Plea bargaining now plays the central role in securing convictions and determining sentences in the U.S. criminal legal system. According to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Lafler v. Cooper (2012),
criminal justice today is for the most part a system of pleas, not a system of trials. Ninety-seven percent of federal convictions and ninety-four percent of state convictions are the result of guilty pleas.