Thinking of Pleading Guilty? Not a Good Idea!
Pleading guilty in a court of law without first consulting a lawyer can cost you dearly. You can plead guilty to a felony charge at any time. But once you enter a guilty plea, it becomes difficult to extricate yourself from the legal mess that ensues and makes it nearly impossible to alter your mind later on.
If you are opting for a guilty plea, be sure that it is the only viable option left for you. But if you believe you are innocent and are not involved in any wrongdoing, you should withstand the pressure for pleading guilty and reconsider the whole matter.
Why should you not plead guilty?
Prosecutors will always put pressure on you to give in to their demands for an early guilty plea as it saves time, money and court hassles. But before submitting yourself to the promise of a lesser verdict/lower penalty, you should talk to a qualified and experienced lawyer and seek out his legal opinion.
While your prosecutors may uphold a certain charge against you, it may be that you qualify for a lesser charge, which is more appropriate in your case. An example will help explain this point better.
You might have been booked under a charge of causing physical assault that resulted in actual bodily harm and the penalty is a maximum of 5 years’ jail time. But if you hire a defence attorney, he will go through your case and point out to you that the more appropriate charge for you in this case is common assault which carries a punishment of 2 years’ imprisonment.
Police personnel and law enforcement officials often misuse the laws of a country and book an accused individual under felony charges that are more serious than appropriate.
In cases like these, where you clearly qualify for the alternative, milder charge, pleading guilty to your crime blindly, without seeking expert legal opinion, can jeopardise your future, social life, career prospects and family prestige.
Other accused individuals plead guilty to crimes not committed by them to protect their family or loved ones or because they were unaware of the existence of an available defence to that charge. Others plead guilty to pacify the police in the form of a bargain.
Drawbacks of Pleading Guilty
By pleading guilty to the crime charges brought against you, you make it difficult to register complaints against law enforcement officers who may have mistreated you during court proceedings and arrest.
Your conviction will tarnish your police record as it will remain there forever. If any prospective employer or bank or financial establishment conducts a background check to verify your criminal history, this conviction will show up and you will probably be passed over for a more suitable candidate while applying for jobs or money loans. You may not be able to travel overseas either.
You also make it nearly impossible for appealing the conviction and pass up chances of acquittal. It is virtually impossible for a layperson to know when he should plead guilty, whether pleading not guilty is advisable or not, whether he qualifies for mitigation or should succumb to the pressures of early plea.
A criminal attorney with years of experience behind him is the right person to counsel you and guide you on the right course of action. So the bottom line is don’t plead guilty until you speak with a lawyer! There is simply way too much at stake.
George Parker Ferguson