I pled out two young gentleman today. I don’t like doing this, it’s not why I’m a lawyer. I do understand the need to explain to you the pros and cons of pleading guilty…but really, I’m just holding your hand through the proceeding. Trying a case, putting the state to the test, that’s the stuff lawyers like to do. Pleading you out? Not so much.
Today, a client of mine charged with gun possession pled guilty and received one year of probation. This case was so bad for the state that they dropped FOUR additional charges against him, including three Class 2’s (the remaining charge was only a Class 4). I told my client we could fight the case. The state’s case was not very strong.
My client had been offered the probation at the last court date. He thought about it for a month. It was explained to him then, then explained to him again today. He agreed, it was a good deal. He also has to get his G.E.D., something I have no problem telling my clients to go do. He agreed to take it. We filled out the forms, I spent a good 20 minutes with him, getting the plea ready and explaining to him all the parameters.
We stood in front of the judge. It takes about ten minutes or less, especially if you have a fast talking judge, to get a plea over with. He agreed to everything the judge said. AS WE WERE WALKING OUT OF THE WELL (this is the area in front of the judge, beyond the gallery, where only lawyers, defendants and bailiff’s sit) my client asks me “How much to fight the case?”
WHAT! I was shocked. I sat him down. I looked at him and said, “Ten seconds ago, you pled guilty. Now you want to fight it? I asked you, repeatedly what you wanted to do today.” He looked at me and said, “Man, I don’t wanna do no drops. I smoke, man.”
My client didn’t want to take his deal so he could keep smoking weed.
Needless to say, I spent a good fifteen minutes explaining to him how difficult it would be to withdraw his plea, how his next deal (which there wouldn’t be) would be terrible, and how, although we told him before we could fight the case, if he LOST, he was going to go down, probably for a year.
He shrugged, then agreed that he should have taken the deal…the one he took. Looking back on it now…I’m thinking he might have actually been high right then and there.