Would you
Plead Guilty?

Plea bargaining once was looked upon with disfavor by judges and legal authorities. But today in America, the criminal justice system is totally dependent upon pleas; there are too many cases, with too few courtrooms and judges for every case to be tried. Alarmingly, not only guilty defendants enter pleas; too often innocent defendants do so as well.

What could induce an innocent person to plead guilty to a crime? The following cases lay out the difficult choices facing defendants who are offered a plea instead of a trial.

Case 1
You have been in detention without bail for five months after detectives arrested you and charged you with carrying a gun. They are lying. You did not have a gun. But it is their word against yours. Before entering jail, you lived with your grandmother, who is sick, and your sister. You served as a caretaker for your grandmother and helped her with everything around the house.
Your choice: Take the plea deal Your choice: Go to trial

Anthony Branch, 20, of Baltimore also chose the plea deal. He pleaded guilty in December, 2014, so that he could be home with his family for Christmas.

While you chose to go to trial, Anthony Branch, 20, of Baltimore took the plea deal in December of 2014, so he could be home with his family for Christmas.

Branch said he had trouble getting housing and a job after his felony conviction. Then in May 2017, he was picked up on new gun charges, after Baltimore police said they found a gun and drugs in a car in which he was riding. Because this was a violation of his probation, an additional year was included in his sentence for the crime. He was released to a halfway house in February 2018. Two months later, his original conviction was voided and the charges dismissed by the Baltimore state's attorney's office after the arresting police officer pled guilty to racketeering charges for stealing cash and drugs from suspects and falsifying overtime hours.

Recent studies have found a direct correlation between being held in pretrial detention and pleading guilty.

What would you do?

You will walk free that day, with a sentence of time served and probation.

You could receive a maximum sentence of three years if found guilty.