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Do innocent people go to court and admit guilt?

High-profile cases often generate a lot of press when the evidence seems to suggest that a person is guilty and he or she fights against it, claiming to be innocent. However, what flies under the radar is that some legal professionals believe many people -- tens of thousands, according to one judge -- have admitted guilt when they were actually innocent.

The judge who made that claim said that part of the reason was that people would get nervous and take a plea bargain. For example, he said people may be looking at 30 years as a mandatory minimum sentence, if convicted. They would then be offered a deal that would only put them in jail for five years.

These people may believe that they had done nothing wrong, but they would still take the deal because they didn't want to risk losing the case and going to prison for 30 years. Obviously, this is just one example and every case is different.

The judge suggested getting judges involved in the plea bargain process. He said that would give them the power to look at the case and decide if the bargain made sense, to keep it from being offered and then taken in cases where the prosecution did not actually have much of a case.

This isn't to say plea bargains should never be used, as they can be a helpful tool for those facing criminal charges. However, this judge's opinion does show just how important it is for those who have been accused to know all of their legal rights and to understand how the process will play out.

Source: Huffington Post, "Tens Of Thousands Of Innocent People Have Pled Guilty, Judge Jed Rakoff Says," Simon McCormack, accessed April 20, 2017

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