By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
I get asked this question on a regular basis at the onset of a case. My answer is this — there may be a time and place for that, but you can’t be acquitted that way. If begging for mercy gets you the best result possible besides an acquittal — it is usually just a coincidence.
Most of us are programmed with integrity and a sense of shame if we think we’ve done something wrong. Those traits serve us well most of the time. But there are three things you may be incorrectly assuming in thinking that just pleading guilty and begging for mercy is the only thing to do; (1) you’re assuming that it’s improper or somehow dishonest to assert your constitutional rights such as remaining silent and forcing the State to prove it’s case beyond all reasonable doubt; (2) you’re assuming that a judge or a jury will punish you more for holding the police and the prosecution to the burdens and standards they accepted when they took the job; and (3) you’re assuming that the Judge’s or prosecution’s view of justice is fair — and that you’ll have a frame of reference to know whether or not the deal you’re getting is raw.
Notice I used the word “assume” four times in the above paragraph. When you make the decision to plead guilty before you’ve had a lawyer evaluate the case — you’re making a ton of assumptions which means you’re ultimately making a very uninformed decision.
A good general doesn’t take an effective battle weapon off the table when planning for war. A good doctor doesn’t take a useful procedure out of consideration when dealing with an illness… so why should you limit your options and fight what may be the most critical situation of your life with your hands behind your back?
There may be all sorts of legal defenses available in any given case, or at the very least, an attorney can help you have a voice when the prosecutor is being unfair with punishment options… but you won’t know unless you make the decision to at least keep the option of being aggressive on the table!
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice you should consult an attorney directly about any specific situation.