MOUNT VERNON — Jeremy Dinsmore entered what is known as an “Alford” plea to a fifth-degree felony charge of breaking and entering in Knox County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday morning.
An “Alford” plea is one in which the defendant may plead guilty while still protesting his innocence, according to Dinsmore’s attorney Phillip Lehmkuhl. By making such a plea, the defendant denies the criminal act but admits evidence exists which, if believed, could result in a conviction.
The term comes from a 1970 U.S. Supreme Court case, North Carolina v. Alford.
The original charge was a first-degree felony of aggravated burglary, which took place at the home of Dinsmore’s then girlfriend on Nov. 11, 2010.
“What I did was amend the original charge,” Springer said. “It went from aggravated burglary to breaking and entering. [The Alford plea] still has the same effect as a guilty. It’s like a no contest plea, almost.”
Lehmkuhl disagrees. He said the plea is not something that is used around here a lot but it is used in bigger cities. He believes it was instrumental in having the charges reduced.
“It enables the case to end with the defendant protesting his innocence and denying his guilt as to the alleged conduct,” Lehmkuhl said. “It’s kind of like the opposite of a no contest plea.”
Lehmkuhl said while it doesn’t directly affect the sentencing, it did start out as a first-degree felony before being lowered to a fifth-degree felony.
“Why do you think that happened,” Lehmkuhl said. “When was the last time you saw a first-degree felony reduced to a fifth-degree felony?”
Springer had different reasons for reducing Dinsmore’s charge.
“That deal was because I didn’t want to put the victim through another trial,” she said. “She just wanted this to be over with. I have to give her credit. She has been through a lot and I just wanted this to be over for her.”
Knox County Common Pleas Court Judge Otho Eyster found Dinsmore guilty and sentenced him to 11 months in prison with credit for 117 days served in the Knox County Jail.
Dinsmore was also sentenced by Eyster to an identical 11-month prison sentence for his guilty plea entered on Feb. 11 for a fifth-degree felony charge of possession of drugs. The sentences will run concurrently.