Who believes judges dont accept guilty pleas

I was wondering why people say a guilty plea is only accepted by a judge if the defendant claims gulit.

I personally know someone who told a judge he was pleading guilty but was innocent.

do different states have different laws ?

I never heard people say that. Maybe, next time you hear it, you should ask the person who said it.

On the contrary! The newspaper is full of people who claim to have not done the crime, but want to avoid the publicity of a trial.

Judges are not required to accept a guilty plea, but I’m not sure of the specifics which allow them not to. Undoubtedly, it’s at least partially discretionary.

You can’t plead “guilty but innocent,” because the two states are contradictory. In some circumstances you can make an Alford plea, which essentially says “I don’t admit that I did it, but I concede a jury would convict me anyway, so I am choosing to plead guilty.” That’s basically the sort of plea you’re talking about.

Otherwise: Yes, the judge does expect the defendant who is pleading guilty to understand that by doing so, he or she is making an admission of actual guilt. So I’m not sure of the case you personally know of where the defendant would have been allowed to plead guity but claim innocence, unless he was entering an Alford plea.

AFAIK that is the rule and the procedure in all U.S. states and in the federal courts as well. Though I’m not sure about Louisiana with their crazy Frenchie laws. :wink:

This doesn’t mean that they have not admitted guilt in the context of the legal proceeding. The judge is not going to care if you plead guilty and then go out and proclaim your innocence to reporters, but make no mistake: As a matter of law you are admitting guilt, which means by definition that you are conceding you are not innocent. The only exceptions I am aware of are the Alford plea and perhaps an insanity defense.

In Oklahoma, for instance, the requirements for a judge to accept a guilty plea are laid out in King v. State:

The judge must determine that

  1. The defendant is competant
  2. The defendant has been advised of the consequences of a guilty plea, and that if he does not plead guilty, the state must prove his guilt
  3. The plea is being made voluntarily, without threats or coercion
  4. There is a factual basis for the plea of guilty

Wisconsin statute states that, before accepting a plea of guilty, one of the court’s requirements is to “Make such inquiry as satisfies it that the defendant in fact
committed the crime charged.”

I’m not certain, but I believe all states have a requirement like that. Even the UCMJ, for members of the armed forces, states:

I thought allocution was required for a guilty plea/plea bargain. (IANAL)

I believe this is coming up right now because of Senator Craig’s plea of guilty to the charge of disturbing the peace. The petition he signed in that case to be allowed to plead guilty contains the following two statements:

"4. I understand the court will not accept a plea of guilty from anyone who claims to be innocent.

  1. I now make no claim that I am innocent of the charge to which I am entering a plea of guilty."

So, in Minnesota at least, and at least with respect to the judge in question, a plea of guilty requires a specific statement that you are not claiming to be innocent.

Allocution may be required by the DA as a condition of a plea bargain, but AFAIK it is not a strict legal prerequisite to a plea of guilty in any jurisdiction.

After Googling, I found this piece of brilliantly incisive legal commentary which may help clear up some of the questions surrounding this issue.

Isn’t the plea entered as Nolo Contendre, no contest, so that the police get their conviction but later civil suits still have to prove guilt.

If only a previous link had been posted discussing that.

I plea bargained my way from 15 mph-over to 9-over just last week. No allocution necessary. :slight_smile:

Here is a news paper quote from the trial I am talking about.

Despite a written statement proclaiming his innocence, former handyman Christopher Richee pleaded guilty Monday to the 1996 killing of a Florida woman in the Crestwood motel where he worked, ensuring he would not be sentenced to life in prison.

Before Richee’s retrial was to begin, Cook County Circuit Judge Thomas Panichi accepted the prosecution and defense request that Richee receive 40 years in prison for the machete slaying of Nan Toder, 33, of Hollywood, Fla.

Was this something that was part of the court record, or something he wrote elsewhere? Lots of people proclaim their innocence up until the time they admit they’re guilty.

Here is the article you cite.

Richee was convicted in his first trial of the murder of a woman staying at the hotel at which he worked as a handyman. Although the evidence against him mainly was circumstantial – he owned weapons similar to those used in the murder, he’d asked a friend to go to his house and dispose of a bloody towel before the police could find it, before the murder he’d shaved all the hair off his body, he had “women issues” (i.e., stalking), and although he was off duty the night of the murder he nevertheless went to the hotel (dressed all in black but with brand new shoes on), fiddled with the reservation computer which noted what guests were in what rooms, and had no alibi for the time of the murder – he was sentenced to life in prison. On appeal, the court reversed his conviction and remanded for a new trial, because the trial court had permitted the state to introduce evidence that Richee had committed two burglaries. Normally, prior bad acts are inadmissible to prove guilt, but Illinois apparently recognizes a modus operandi exception to that rule: if the prior bad acts are so similar to the charged crime as to constitute a “signature” if you will, the acts come in.

The appellate court found that the prior burglaries were not so similar to the murder at issue that the modus operandi exception applied. Therefore, the court held, it was error to let the jury hear about the burglaries as they were not relevant and only tended to inflame the jury. However, the court also held that a retrial was appropriate:

Perhaps mindful of the appellate court’s note – that it found the other evidence sufficient to support a conviction – Richee decided to plead guilty to the crime so as to avoid a longer jail sentence. Nevertheless, just before pleading guilty, Richee handed the media a statement proclaiming his innocence. Those who question Richee’s guilt tend to do so on the ground that DNA evidence was not found to tie Richee to the crime.

In this CSI era, too many people become dependent on DNA as a panacea. And, nicely for Richee, it permits him to proclaim his innocence to a gullible audience dazzled by a misunderstanding of science. But DNA isn’t necessary to find someone guilty. Does it help? Sure. But it isn’t necessary.

Maybe Richee is factually innocent. But the facts are pretty damning – why shave all your body hair? Why ask your friend to go throw away a bloody towel because the police are on their way to search your house? Why refuse to let someone into your house the night of the murder, claiming you’re covered in puke, but tell your GF that you went out to get a burrito? It doesn’t add up. Maybe he didn’t do it. But now he’s lost all opportunity to make that claim.

There’s no inconsistency between these two sentences: if a person tells a judge they’re guilty, then the judge can accept a guilty plea from a defendant who claims guilt.