3 Issues With Pleading Guilty That You Simply Can’t Ignore

Innocent people plead guilty every day in the United States. Thirty years ago, about one in five criminal charges went to trial. These days, only about 3% of people accused of a crime will assert their innocence and go to trial. The other 97% plead guilty.

People pleading guilty can save the state money. It costs a lot to conduct a criminal trial. On the other hand, innocent people wind up saddled with criminal records and facing massive, life-altering consequences because they didn’t want to fight their charges in court. There are many reasons to try to prove your innocence when facing serious criminal charges.

Even Diversion Pleas Can Show Up As A Conviction On A Background Check

Pretrial diversion programs can do a lot to reduce recidivism rates. Drug courts and similar systems aim to keep people out of the standard criminal justice pipeline by rerouting them into therapy, rehabilitative services and community service obligations.

Provided that someone completes all of the necessary requirements in their diversion plan, they can avoid an actual criminal conviction on their record. Unfortunately, even pleading guilty in a diversion program can mean that you fail a background check. Employers may still be able to access information about the arrest and charges and use that information when making decisions about your employment.

A Plea Now Could Limit Your Options In The Future

A guilty plea in standard criminal court, even if you get to plead to a lesser offense, will mean a lifetime with a criminal record. Employers can and will discriminate against you because of your criminal background.

Even if you explain the circumstances to them, failing a background check might mean you don’t get a job or have limited options for upward mobility in your career. A criminal record can also limit what institutions of higher education will accept you as a student. Many criminal convictions will also limit your options for private scholarships and federal student aid.

You Can Still Face Major Punishment After A Plea

Unless you accept a specific plea deal or offer, just pleading guilty won’t necessarily impact what penalties you face. Although people can and do receive lower sentences after a guilty plea when compared with trial-based conviction in many cases, such an outcome is neither guaranteed nor universal.

Rather than pleading guilty to avoid trial and to put this whole issue behind you, you may need to consider mounting a defense against your pending charges.