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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0 responses to “Just Pleading Guilty”

  1. Thanks for the shout out.

    I’m trying to get this water from behind my ears as hard as I can.

    So other than cooperators and quck-pleaders, is there any other group you refuse to represent?

  2. You continue to amaze…glad to know that you would counsel an individual to examine all options before turning their future over to the man. My son will be going on trial on April 20th. I cannot bear to key in the actual charge but suffice it to say that it arose from an incident of domestic violence and he has a criminal record resulting from the WOD.
    His attorney said to me yesterday that “he is standing on principle’ because he will not accept their offer of ten years. While I like to think that my son has that integrity, the truth is that he is twenty-seven years old and does not want to emerge from prison when he is headed for middle age. But, it is a gamble for sure and my family is scared beyond belief.
    Aside from the WOD, the issue of domestic violence and how it is treated in the criminal justice system is something that I would like to see you address. I am in no way suggesting that it is a good thing for men to beat up on women but in these situations the word of the complainant appears to be holy and beyond question.

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