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Pleading Guilty: Should You Try for Mercy from the Court or Fight the Charge?

Interviewer: If someone like knows or feels that they’re guilty, should they throw themselves on the mercy of the court or should they fight the charge?

The Consequences of a Drug-Related Conviction Are Serious, Costly and Long-Lasting

Brian Geno: They should definitely not throw themselves at the mercy of the court. That is a great way to get whatever sentence the court feels like giving you. The court is not merciful on a person who just throws themselves on the mercy of the court and almost all drug cases and some alcohol-related cases have possible jail time as a consequence.

Some of the drug cases or what they call Schedule V drugs and they just have a fine up to $250, those are not very serious, but the fines can be hefty. A period of probation can be included. Sometimes, they even can result in jail. If there’s anything you could do to beat it and you don’t go out and beat it, then you will look like you were in possession and used an illegal drug and you won’t be able to change that later on.

You have to fight it upfront. It is not a good idea to just go in there and say, “Well, I did it and therefore I will just tell the court I did and take whatever they give me.” Some of my clients feel the need to confess to me, “Oh, I cheated. I know I did it. I should just take my punishment.”

Mitigation Is Always Possible When You Defend a Drug-Related Charge

I tell them, “Okay, let’s make that the last time you say it. Now that you’ve said that, let’s go about fighting for this case because you don’t know whether or not you may be able to beat it. You may able to reduce the chance of jail. You may be able to reduce the chance of big fines. You may be able to avoid losing your driver’s license for a year.”

Those are all things that can happen to a person and they don’t realize it. Losing your license is a big one. If you lose your license, many times you lose your job. If you lose your job, you lose the place you live in or you can’t continue to pay for your family.

Always Consult with an Attorney Following a Drug-Related Charge

You don’t think about that when you say, “Oh I’m going to go ask for mercy from the court.” The next thing you do is you walk out with no license and your job is on the edge. I say it would be a mistake to do that. At least talk to a lawyer in advance at a minimum.