Almost every day I hear that. People who are frustrated with the criminal justice system get discouraged and want to simply bring their case to an end. The wheels of justice turn slow, sometimes at a snail’s pace. This is particularly true if you cannot afford to hire your own lawyer and rely on the public defender or another court appointed lawyer. There are times when time is on your side and there are other times when it is in your best interest to move the case forward. A criminal charge is a lot like a bad tooth. You simply have to deal with it and putting it off sometimes can only make it worse.
There are however consequences to pleading guilty.
In a domestic violence case, simple battery for example, you can lose your right to possess or buy a gun for some years. You can end up having to take domestic violence counseling, be placed on reporting probation, pay Court fees and in many cases end up with a no contact order prohibiting you from living in your own house. Sadly, the system is abused often by women in divorce proceedings. They use a false allegation of domestic abuse to get possession of the home and the kids. It puts them in the driver’s seat and gives them a tremendous advantage in the civil proceeding. As a criminal defense attorney, I have seen judges here in Sarasota set bonds in misdemeanor cases as high as fifty thousand dollars. Bail bond are not supposed to be used to punish people and are simply a guarantee of appearance. Here in Sarasota, depending on the judge who handles your case at first appearance, you may find an outrageous bond set forcing you to pay thousands to a bondsman or sit in jail awaiting a bond reduction hearing. Many people plead guilty to simply avoid sitting in jail for weeks awaiting a trial.
This is wrong.
The public defender here in Sarasota runs a great office. His assistants are dedicated professionals. The problem is that the public defender’s office is understaffed, underpaid and over worked. Every day, more and more cases are assigned to each individual attorney. They handle literally hundreds of cases at a time where private lawyers may only handle dozens. A client may sit in jail for weeks before actually meeting with his court appointed lawyer. In the meantime, his job is lost, he falls behind on car payments, he may get evicted and suffer irreparable damage.
It really does make a difference.
Never plead guilty to anything you have not done to simply get out of jail.