Ex-Vanderbilt University football player, Brandon Banks, was offered a 10-year prison sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to rape and registering as a sex offender for life. The football player was charged with participating in the gang rape of an unconscious university student who was unresponsive on the floor of her dorm room four years ago.
Banks -- who says that his teammates exerted psychological pressure on him to participate in the rape -- refused the plea bargain offer. According to his lawyer, the refusal made sense. The young football player stood to receive a prison sentence of 15 to 25 years if he was convicted. The lawyer said that Brandon's term of imprisonment would eventually come to an end, but the sex offender registration would keep him in a "virtual prison" for the rest of his life.
Last Friday, the court ruled that Banks was guilty of aggravated rape. Now, Banks must wait for his sentencing hearing to find out how much time he will serve in the Tennessee prison system. Unlike nonviolent sex offenders who can apply to remove their names from the registry following 10 years, the fact that Banks' sex offense was categorized as violent means that his name would have stayed on the registry for life. As it stands, once he serves his time, he could experience freedom from this stigma one day.
Did this football player make the right choice in his defense? The choices defendants make during their criminal proceedings are usually born out of a combination of their personal preferences and instincts, and the advice and recommendations of their criminal defense lawyers. Having a wise and experienced legal counselor by your side during your criminal defense can be an invaluable asset when navigating the Tennessee criminal court process.
Source: The Tennessean, "The plea deal Brandon E. Banks didn't take in Vanderbilt rape case, and why," Stacey Barchenger, June 26, 2017