If you grew up watching legal shows on TV, you might assume that juries decide the fate of everyone who has been charged with a crime. Yet, nowadays, most real-life trials are civil actions, not criminal ones. Those who are accused of crimes tend to plead guilty before their cases reach the trial phase of the criminal justice process.
Has there been a sudden outbreak of honesty among people who’ve done wrong? Or is someone incentivizing those who have been accused of crimes to admit responsibility?
Plea deals have gained unprecedented traction
According to the Pew Research Center, over 97% of federal criminal cases and 94% of state-level ones are settled via a plea deal. As the police don’t always get the right person – and those who have committed some degree of wrongdoing don’t always meet legal standards that define what crimes are and are not – this means that some innocent people are also pleading guilty.
Should you do the same if you’re facing criminal charges?
It depends. You still have the right to a jury trial, as most criminal defendants do. It’s just a case of deciding the best option for your particular circumstances. Maybe you realize you did wrong. If your chances of acquittal are slim, you might consider that your best option is to allow your attorney to negotiate a more lenient sentence based on your remorse and previous good behavior.
Or perhaps you did nothing wrong and won’t tolerate anyone tarnishing your good name or looking down on your family. In this case, you might want to keep fighting.
What are the chances of beating the charges?
Regardless of innocence or guilt, there is always a chance to beat a criminal charge. Many who have pled guilty might not have done so if they had access to adequate legal assistance and an understanding of their defense options.