Plants’ remedy cannot guarantee dismissal

WINFIELD, W.Va. — Embattled Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants may wind up in Batterers Intervention Program in Putnam County. However, Putnam County Prosecutor Mark Sorsaia says, if he is, it will be under an agreement which conforms to the law.

Two previous pre-trial agreements have been scrapped because both amounted to pre-trial diversions, which are illegal in domestic violence cases. The first agreement was a pre-trial diversion, the second, which encompassed Plants completing the program in Putnam County, was of a different name, but in Sorsaia’s judgment still constituted an illegal pre-trail diversion.

The sticking point, according to Sorsaia, is the guarantee of a dismissal within the language of the agreement.

“The law is clear you can’t have an agreement that will guarantee a case will be dismissed,” Sorsaia said. “You’re not allowed to do that, it’s a diversion program.”

Sorsaia said however, in Kanawha County there is a pilot pre-trail monitoring program which would fit the necessary legal parameters for what Plants’ legal team is seeking. The monitoring program allows for the defendant to complete all of the required counseling and treatment, but whether the charges are dropped is solely at the discretion of the judge and prosecutor and nothing is guaranteed.

“If someone enters into a monitoring agreement and demonstrates to the prosecutors and the court they’re not a threat and they’ve taken steps to improve their lives, then the ends of justice could be met with a dismissal,” Sorsaia said. “But the law is clear you can’t promise a dismissal in a domestic case.”

Plants faces two charges involving misdemeanor battery and violation of a protective order.

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