Trading Away Justice is a coalition of professional and student news organizations who investigate the phenomenon where people arrested are admitting to crimes they didn’t commit in order to get out of jail.
While it would seem to get potentially innocent people out of jail, it begs the question: Does an individual want to fight their case with significant evidence of innocence and potentially stay in jail, or should they admit guilt for a lesser crime and go home with a criminal record and a sentence for time served?
Plea bargaining is often a part of the legal process
Recently profiled on PBS, Trading Away Justice is looking at an estimated 100 cases where it believes that individuals opted for time served for a guilty plea. No one knows how many of these types of pleas actually have happened, but the innocence project estimates that 95 percent of felony convictions in the U.S. are obtained through guilty pleas.
It’s harder to prove innocence once entering a guilty plea
Unfortunately, about 15 percent of the people who plead to a crime they didn’t commit are later being exonerated. The reason for this is that it is extremely hard for people to overturn their conviction if they have already admitted guilt.
The right attorney can help
The right criminal defense attorney can provide knowledgeable guidance in matters involving pleas and defense of your rights. They should aggressively pursue judgment of innocence when there is evidence. An attorney can also explain the details of the law and a sentence so person charged with a felony or other crime can make the final decision when considering plea deal.