Everyday people plead guilty to a crime that they did not do. Although you may feel that this is a far fetched fantasy, the fact is this is a cruel reality because people simply can not afford to pay their defense lawyers.
Prosecutors are very aware of this fact and play the “Run up their bill” game. This is done very easily and takes just a few seconds by requesting that the hearing be continued to another date. Although the defense has only to agree in a few words, that lawyer gets paid to do that at the same rate as if they were in the thick of a trial. Do this 3 or 4 times and already the bill has eaten up all the beer money for at least the next 3 years. This encourages the defendant to enter a guilty plea thus making the prosecutors job easy as eating pie.
Many of the innocent people end up in criminal court for seemingly stupid reasons. The police are not judges, so if five people are in a car and one person in a car has drugs, everyone in the car gets arrested. This is true even if the innocent person never used drugs and had no idea the other person had drugs in their possession. All of a sudden this innocent person must find a criminal defense lawyer or risk getting a criminal record and or going to jail.
This is allowed to happen because technically the judge is blind to everything that is not presented for consideration. If the defendant announces he wants to plead guilty simply because he can not afford the legal fees, the judge is likely to reject that plea leaving the same situation. The judge may only accept the plea if the real reason is not presented.
This brings us to review the morality of this practice of continuing the cases without just cause. The further people are from the case the less is known and the more people rely on the media for being accurate. If this is a spin off of a nasty divorce case where one has accused the other of sexual misconduct with their children, then the stakes are much higher, but the ability to pay the lawyers fees remains the same. Pleading guilty to this can result in being labeled a sex offender and having their name and face appear on one or more Internet sex offenders lists for the world to see. Although this is extreme, rest assured pleading guilty to this has been considered by many people.
That brings us to the reality of how many truly innocent people are in jail simply because the bank was broken. Seemingly the rich seem to get off while the poor are in jail. Looking at a cross section of the annual income of incarcerated people, and you will discover a huge similarity. Although there is some consideration that in poorer areas the crime rate is higher, you still must ask yourself how many people said “Guilty as charged your honor” when in fact the only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.