Plea deals provide a seemingly valuable benefit to those looking at a difficult trial. Plea arrangement may result in a defendant receiving a far lighter sentence in a New Jersey criminal court. Tragically, not everyone who agrees to a plea bargain is guilty of the crime. Wrongful convictions resulting from plea deals might not be as uncommon as some assume.
Plea bargains and wrongful convictions
Jury trials come with tremendous expenses and costs for both the defense and prosecution. So, the district attorney’s office might emphasize plea deals to a significant degree. Surprisingly, 95% of criminal convictions derive from deal-derived guilty pleas. Shockingly, 20% of wrongful convictions come from plea deal arrangements.
Perhaps the number isn’t entirely surprising. A defendant might be scared and lack adequate counsel. So, the defendant enters a guilty plea based on how the police interrogated them. Sadly, the police could use coercive tactics, including outright lying. Lying to a suspect is legal due to a decades-old Supreme Court decision.
Reversing a false guilty plea from a bargaining arrangement can be challenging. What may infuriate so many people caught up in the criminal justice system is their plea deals might derive from police misconduct.
Police misconduct and unethical behavior
A criminal defense strategy could become incredibly difficult when the defendant admits to wrongdoing or otherwise makes incriminating statements. Sometimes, those statements derive from the police threatening the defendant or tampering with witnesses and evidence.
However, many self-incriminating statements may come from legal lying during interrogations. Falsely telling someone a witness saw the defendant commit several felonies may panic the person into a confession.
Defendants have the right to remain silent, and invoking this right could keep them from getting into serious legal trouble. Asserting a right to have an attorney present during questioning might help significantly as well.