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Just Pleading Guilty

Shawn Matlock, who’s growing up quite nicely, writes about trust (a topic dear to my heart) and his distaste for potential clients who “just want to do a quick plea.”

I get such potential clients in the office now and then. When they tell me they want to “just plead guilty and take probation”, I tell them something like this:

If you want someone to just plead you guilty, go hire someone else. You’ll pay a lot less than hiring me. Lots of people sitting in that seat tell me they just want to plead guilty. “Just pleading guilty” is not what I do; nobody ever won a guilty plea. On every case, for every client, I look for ways to beat the case. I prepare for trial. I fight. Sometimes we win, sometimes we don’t, sometimes we plead guilty after all, sometimes the fight doesn’t last long, but even when we plead after trying to win the case, we get better deals than we would by “just pleading guilty”. You may think they have you dead to rights, but you don’t know the law and you don’t know what evidence they have against you. Nobody sitting in that seat ever does. Sometimes I convince the people sitting there that they don’t really just want to plead guilty, that they really want someone to fight for them and try to find a way to win. And you know what? About half the time, when they decide they don’t want to “just plead guilty”, but want to fight after all, we end up winning.

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