Monday, September 19, 2005

Plead Guilty!!!

I went off to one of my local Crown Courts to have a conference with a Client and his barrister today. I had suffered massive problems trying to arrange a conference in prison before his trial date so a conference at this trial readiness hearing seemed like a good idea.

This particular case has troubled me for some time. The case concerns a house being used as a cannabis factory kitted out with hydroponic lighting. The evidence against my Client is that he is seen walking out of the house holding two bin liners stuffed full of fresh cannabis leaves. Also his finger print is found inside the house. His instructions prior to the Prosecution serving their forensic evidence was that he was never in the house. Since the forensic evidence has been served my Client has failed to account for his finger print in any way but refuses to accept that the evidence is so strong that he will be convicted.

The conversation at the conference today went something like this:

Me: The evidence against you is overwhelming.
Client: I know, but, I am not pleading guilty.
Me: The evidence is so strong you will be convicted at trial.
Client: Okay.
Me: Why is your finger print in the property?
Client: I don't know.
Me: How did it get there?
Client: I don't know.
Me: C'mon, at least explain what your finger print is doing there?
Client: I don't know how it got there.
Me: Is it your finger print?
Client: I guess so.
Barrister: If you get convicted after a trial you will go to prison for longer than you would if you pleaded guilty.
Client: I know.
Barrister: You could serve a long time in prison.
Client: Right.
Me: Are you insane? Do you not understand what I am saying?
Client: I understand. I am not pleading guilty.

So my mad client decided to maintain his not guilty plea despite my advice that he will undoubtedly be convicted at trial. He seems to understand the advice I am giving him but he refuses, for reasons unknown to myself, to change his plea to get a lesser sentence. Even if my Client is innocent he has not provided me with the evidence, or the leads, I need to help him fight the case. This is one case of legal suicide.

7 comments:

Lennie Briscoe said...

Does he understand that your on his side? Unless he really is innocent?...ahem..

Gavin said...

We asked him whether he understood us and whether he realised that we were there to help him as a defence team - he still would not entertain the idea of pleading guilty or the reality that he would go to prison for a longer period of time!

Lennie Briscoe said...

Maybe a defense would be mental defect ?

Bystander said...

I did an almost identical case the other day. I was all set to accept jurisdiction on cultivation of class C, as per the guidelines, but he was in fact charged with production, and Stones says that is good for 3 years or more, so we sent it up. I don't know the cases on cultivation vs, production, but on the facts we heard, had I been his brief I would have offered a plea to cultivation and a firm NG to production, as the def was just a little man doing a bit of watering for pocket money. I think he was overcharged.

Steve said...

I mentioned this at our Crown Court today. One of the barristers suggested your client might have been visiting the house and was shocked to discover cannabis on the premises. So shocked was he, indeed, that he stuffed all the cannabis leaves he could find into the bin bags, which he was removing for later destruction.

More seriously, several of them could recall (admittedly rare) cases where their clients had been acquitted, much to everyone's surprise, in the face of absolutely overwhelming evidence; the consensus was that sometimes jurors must think 'Since he's still denying it despite all this apparent evidence, maybe he really didn't do it and it's all a horrible mistake'.

Anonymous said...

Does no one else think outside the box? He was keeping his mouth shut for someone higher up, under promise of either punishment or reward. Saying anything would risk the punishment side.....

Gavin said...

"Does no one else think outside the box? He was keeping his mouth shut for someone higher up, under promise of either punishment or reward. Saying anything would risk the punishment side....."

I think that you were probably right. His trial finished on 6th October 2005 - guilty as charged.