Why Hastert Got More Time In Jail Than He Pleaded For

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert arrives at the federal courthouse on Wednesday in Chicago for his sentencing.
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert arrives at the federal courthouse on Wednesday in Chicago for his sentencing. Charles Rex Arbogast / AP
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert arrives at the federal courthouse on Wednesday in Chicago for his sentencing.
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert arrives at the federal courthouse on Wednesday in Chicago for his sentencing. Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

Why Hastert Got More Time In Jail Than He Pleaded For

The 15-month sentence handed down to Dennis Hastert last week put some surprise into a plea bargaining system that doesn’t like surprises. When the former US House Speaker pleaded guilty prosecutor agreed to a sentence of zero to six months.

The judge more than doubled that.

A former federal prosecutor says that kind of unpredictability can make it hard for defendant to analyze the risk of going to trial verses taking a plea. But Hastert’s case was an aberration in so many ways that his surprisingly long sentence shouldn’t affect other plea deals.