Should I Plead Guilty When I Am Not Guilty
On misdemeanor cases where county jail time is possible but a plea bargain will allow for a fine and some community service it may be best to take advantage of a plea bargain even though you believe that you might win the case in front of a jury. Most experienced criminal defense attorneys will tell you that it is impossible to predict what a jury will do. When a plea of guilty is entered in this situation it is sometimes called a People v. West plea. The client and the attorney state to the court that even though a guilty plea is accepted it is done on the advise of counsel and it is in the best interest of the client to do it. On your record with the Department of Justice it will still be a guilty plea.
On felony cases, the issue becomes more complicated. Some cases carry possibilities of life sentences, namely three strike cases. Even if there is alibi evidence and it is possible that in fact an innocent person is being charged, it may still be advisable to plead guilty, especially if the DA is willing to strike the strikes. In this instance the court will only accept a guilty plea with the DA stating that there is a factual basis for the plea. The defense attorney in front of some courts may be allowed to make a statement that he does not believe in the factual basis but in the best interests of his client a plea of guilty has been entered.