Over Two-thirds of Israeli Indictments End in Plea Deals

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The Tel Aviv District Court, in 2015.
The Tel Aviv District Court, in 2015.Credit: Eyal Toueg

Sixty-eight percent of the indictments filed by the state prosecution last year ended in plea bargains, according to the first annual statistical report on the prosecution’s activities.

Another 15 percent ended in convictions following a trial, so the prosecution won convictions 83 percent of the time.

Only 4 percent of cases ended with acquittals or the withdrawal of the indictment. In the remaining cases, either the court sentenced the defendants without convicting them thereby sparing them a criminal record or the proceedings were halted for some reason.

According to the report, of around 30,000 cases opened by the prosecution last year, fewer than 5,000 ended with the filing of an indictment. Of the rest, 78 percent were closed for various reasons, while 22 percent were transferred to other agencies like the police prosecution for handling.

The most common reason for closing a case was insufficient evidence. This was the reason for closing about 60 percent of all cases that did not make it to court.

Of the indictments filed, almost half were for violent crimes. Another 13 percent dealt with sex crimes, 12 percent with fraud and 8 percent with property crimes. Drug offenses accounted for only 5 percent of all indictments last year.

The prosecution also handled more than 3,000 criminal appeals last year, of which 85 percent were filed by the defendant rather than the state. Most criminal appeals are over the severity or leniency of the sentence rather than the actual verdict.

Of the appeals filed by the state, the court granted the appeal fully or partially in 41 percent of cases. Of the appeals filed by defendants, the number was 34 percent.

The report also discussed the prosecution’s effort to confiscate money and property as part of its battle against organized crime.

These efforts were stepped up significantly last year, with 83 million shekels ($22 million) being confiscated, up from 50 million shekels in 2014. The increase in the sum the state sought to confiscate was even more dramatic: 575 million shekels from165 million in 2014.

There was also a rise in the amount of money collected through tax liens, reaching 129 million shekels last year from 92 million shekels in 2014. In contrast, the amount collected through fines on criminals fell to 9 million shekels from 12 million.

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