Law enforcement officers can arrest innocent people for all kinds of reasons. One witness could mis-identify an individual, a mistake that could quickly lead to an arrest. The police might spot someone who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
When police officers and prosecutors bring charges against someone who isn’t guilty of an offense, you might imagine that that person would fight fiercely to clear their name. However, certain common practices in the criminal justice system may result in innocent people choosing to plead guilty rather than to mount a defense against pending criminal charges.
Many people won’t risk going to trial because of extreme charges
Typically, prosecutors and police officers need to have decent rates for solving cases, arresting suspects and convicting those charged with crimes in order to move forward with their career. In other words, prosecutors and police have a vested interest in convicting someone even if they are innocent.
In order to prevent the expense frequently associated with criminal trials, it has become common practice for prosecutors to charge individuals with multiple crimes for a single offense and to use the most severe charges they can possibly bring under the circumstances. Combine serious charges with federal sentencing rules, and you have a recipe for impossibly long jail sentences.
The system can easily create penalties that are so significant that even innocent individuals worry about what would happen if they get convicted. When facing life imprisonment, pleading guilty and facing lower penalties may seem like a common-sense decision.
Pleading guilty will impact someone for the rest of their life
Although entering a guilty plea may be the most expedient means of resolving pending charges, it is certainly not the best option available. A criminal conviction will mean consequences ranging from jail time and fines to the loss of your license.
You will also have to worry about the civil impact of a criminal record, including difficulty securing housing, difficulty getting a job and even reduced social and educational opportunities. Regardless of how exaggerated or frightening the charges that the state brings against you are, you still have the right to defend yourself.
Getting advice and guidance early in the process to help you strategize to defeat the charges instead of just pleading guilty to them to make them go away.