Reading this article at Simple Justice, I got thinking about something that really bothers me.
Often, given the risks of trial and the way the deck is stacked against criminal defendants (beyond a reasonable doubt my ass...) an innocent person will plead guilty to a lesser offense simply to get a shorter sentence (and to end the uncertainty). As part of any guilty plea, generally the defendant is required to admit to doing the conduct, under oath, in court.
I was wondering how one can reconcile this with laws against perjury and against facilitiation of perjury (for a lawyer). If you know your client is innocent, but think he or she will still be convicted, or at least might be, how can you let them allocute to guilt under oath? How can the innocent person, in good consicence, commit perjury just for the sake of the plea?
If I were that innocent person, I would honestly tell the court that I was innocent, but that I was pleading guilty to a lesser charge because of the risks of not doing so being too great. If the court would not allow me to do that and plead guilty, then I would take that up to appeal and argue that it is a violation of due process to only allow plea bargains for reduced charges to guilty people while denying them to innocent people. Maybe I am just crazy, but it seems crazy to me that innocent people should get a worse outcome than guilty people under our system (of course, one could argue that innocent people will always get a worse outcome since they have so much taken away by the system, and all when they did nothing wrong).
4 years ago