I Did It, I'm Sorry, I Didn't Do It

So, what do we learn from this Senator Larry Craig thing?

Once you plead guilty, it is much harder to say, "I didn't do it." The way the average American looks at this now is, "If you didn't do it, you wouldn't have pleaded guilty. You would've wanted to scream the injustice from the rooftops 'I didn't do it! I've been framed!'" But, instead, once you plead guilty, you're kind of stuck with it.

(Similarly, if you didn't do anything wrong, why would you resign? Why not fight it out and try to prove your innocence? Why bother to apologize but then follow it up with "I cannot control what people choose to believe?" )

This happens all the time in criminal courts. Someone's criminal record is questioned, and they respond, "I didn't do it, I just pleaded guilty to..." either avoid a hassle, or save money, or for any other reason. But this just doesn't fly, because the next logical question is, "Ok, then you lied to a judge, under oath, when you said you did it?"

But from a criminal defense perspective, the point is, it is very hard to overcome a guilty plea, or to overcome a criminal record.

Think long and hard before pleading guilty (especially to things you are not guilty of), it could be something that scars your record (and people's opinion of you) for a long time.


  1. The Army of the PhoenixSeptember 02, 2007 10:09 AM

    World must hear about this.

    An incredible but true story: Spanish authorities prosecute child for terrorism when he e-mails companies requesting labelling in Catalan language, using Phoenix Army monicker from Harry Potter books. Police accuse him of organizing an Al Qaeda cell. Case goes all the way to Spanish High Court.

    Video 1

  2. Favorite client comment: When reviewing a client's record to score the guidelines, the client will say "They dropped that" ... my investigator dutifully goes to pull the file & finds out the client pled guilty and received time served... going back to the client, I explain this & he answers, completely deadpan, "Yeah, they dropped it after I pled guilty." The clients never seem to understand that these options (drop v. plea) are completely opposite positions. However, a senator with access to lawyers, on staff and elsewhere, should understand his options.

  3. Everything you said in your post is exactly why (hopefully it will never happen, but) if I ever get charged with something I didn't do, I'm claiming my innocence till my death. I don't think I could ever plead guilty to something I didn't do - I'd have to be in REALLY dire straits for that to happen.

    I understand that people sometimes do it just because it will make their life easier under certain circumstances, but I could never be one of those people. I'd just go to jail and write a book about my life story once I got out and my innocence was proven.

  4. Off this subject, but did you see the article about the police officer who left his police dog in his patrol car all day and then came back at night to find the dog dead? What's up with all this animal cruelty (and people thinking that living beings can live through 109 degrees in the car for over 12 hours). Thought this article dealt with two of your prior posts.

  5. Somehow I can't stop hearing Marion Barry saying "Bitch set me up!!"

  6. I wonder what percent of people who say they're guilty really aren't...What's your guess?

  7. The Craig case is interesting not because he's trying to "take it all back", but because of the insight it gives us into the political world. For a high profile anti-gay individual like Craig, even if he's not guilty, the political fall out from just an accusation that he might have solicited gay sex, is so catastrophic that he must plead "guilty" to a lesser charge in order to avoid the firestorm from fighting the real charges. Were it not for the political ramifications of fighting the charges, Craig probably would have pled "not guilty".