I-Team: Gun arrest doesn’t always mean jail time

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CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio - The FOX 8 I-TEAM has found getting busted with a gun often does not mean you will get locked up for punishment.

Our investigation has found many convicts facing gun charges get probation.

The I-TEAM reviewed 90 cases in Cuyahoga County from 2014. We specifically looked at cases with the most serious charge being for a concealed weapon or having a weapon as a felon or improper handling of a gun. We did not look at cases involving a gun used to rob or shoot someone.

In the cases we checked, about half of those facing charges got probation. Only about a third got locked up, and some only got time served for a few days spent in jail while under investigation.

The I-TEAM also found some of the people getting probation for gun charges have been busted for trouble on your streets before. Or,  others ended up wanted by authorities after getting probation for a gun.

The Cleveland Police Union President says officers get frustrated. Loomis said, “Yeah, we got a gun off the street…but is that the only goal here? They can easily go get another one.”

Judge Nancy Russo points out prosecutors often make deals with suspects and that limits what judges can do at sentencing. Russo said, “Most of these cases come in as plea bargains. So if the case comes in at one charge, but the prosecutor decides to plea bargain, at that time the judge must sentence only on what the plea bargain is.”

In fact, the I-TEAM has noticed many of these cases involved plea bargains or reduced gun charges.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office points out that no one charged in these cases gets a gun back.

We’ve learned county prosecutors are reviewing how these cases move through court.

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