Is Pleading Guilty And Expecting Court’s Mercy Ever Advisable?

Quite often, people feel bad and want to pay some sort of penance for something they did, but to just throw yourself on the mercy of the court is a recipe for disaster. Quite often, people are over-charged, and there are always ways to get charges reduced to another type of offense that don’t have as serious a consequence. There are also many sentencing options other than a total jail sentence.

For example, if someone’s accused of indecent assault, there is a one subsection in which you don’t have to register as a sex offender, while the rest of them require you to register as a sex offender. If you just throw yourself on the mercy of the court, you’ll go to jail and you’ll be registered as a sex offender for a long time. However, if the case is negotiated, you can wind up with a disposition where you’re not a registered sex offender, and that’s just one of thousands of different permutations of how a case can go. I’ve had cases that were charged as felonies, but we went to the preliminary hearing and the felonies went away.

I once had a client who was charged with vehicular homicide, but when we obtained the surveillance video from a local business, we were able to show that what occurred was really just a bad accident, not a crime and the case was thrown out after a preliminary hearing. If he’d just thrown himself on the mercy of the court, he’d be a felon involved in the death of someone, instead of having all charges dismissed except a simple traffic ticket.

How Can Someone Find Out If They Are Being Investigated For A Crime?

Federal authorities sometimes send out a target letter.  This is a letter that puts you on notice that you’re the subject of a federal investigation. Sometimes you will just be arrested before you know you are being investigated. In the state system if you are not arrested first sometimes the police come up to you asking to talk. Generally speaking, if you have contact with a police officer they are investigating you. Another way in Pennsylvania is the police send you a criminal summons telling you what the charges are and when you have to be in court.

It’s important to remember that you are under absolutely no obligation to meet with police without an attorney and you are never required to answer their questions. The Fifth Amendment says you have the right to remain silent, which means, other than basic identification, say nothing. If you’re stopped along the road and the police officer asks where you are going, politely say you don’t have to answer that question.

Even if you’ve been drinking; if they ask if you’ve been drinking, politely tell them you choose not to answer. You don’t have to tell them a thing and it’s always the case that the more people talk, the worse it is for them; the more people talk, the greater the chance of saying something that can be misinterpreted, and anything can and will be used against you, and may even be twisted against you in a court of law.

Are the Police Allowed To Lie To You?

Police are allowed to lie because U.S. Supreme Court says they can. Keep in mind, though, we’re not allowed to lie to them; in fact, if you do, it’s a separate crime. That’s what Martha Stewart did; she was accused of insider trading, which she didn’t do, but she lied to a federal agent and that’s why she was sent to prison. In fact, the Supreme Court has just sanctioned that an officer can make a mistake and pull you over for something you didn’t do, and that’s okay.

What Does it Mean Exactly to Be Indicted?

In Pennsylvania, being indicted means a grand jury was convened, the district attorney presented evidence to them, and the grand jury decides there is evidence to charge you with a crime. Most of the times, the defendant doesn’t know it. That’s called an indictment. In Pennsylvania people are simply charged with a crime and no grand jury is convened before the charges are filed.

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