Here’s the sitch:
Imagine if you will that you’re on trial for murder. (I’m not gonna specify the degree because (a) I am not a lawyer, and (b) I am not a lawyer, and © I am not a lawyer.) Now there’s three pieces of good news. First, you were wise enough not to say a fricking thing to the cops other than “I am not saying a gorram lawyer and am not saying anything to you without her say so.” Second, your attorney is both skilled and trustworthy; she always does a good job for her clients and never bullshits them. Third, the state’s caser has fallen apart. The forensic investigation was a perfect storm of bad procedure and science and has been discredited; the lead investigators have been themselves arrested on corruption charges and have no credibility; and the one eyewitness died of a heart attack, and for reasons I’m too ignorant to make up, his grand jury testimony was ruled inadmissible. The DA’s looking for a deal, but in your lawyer’s opinion the state hasn’t come close to meeting their burden.
But here’s the bad news. You are, in fact, guilty as sin. The victim had been stalking you and your family for months, making all of your lives hell. But as bad as the harassment was–looting your parents’ bank account, spreading humiliating private information about you on the net, planting rumors your best friend had been arrested for child molestation, planting kiddy porn on your spouse’s computer, and so on–the stalker never got violent. He didn’t want you dead; he wanted to make you a pariah. One day, while the stalker was gloating over how effective his campaign had been, you snapped and killed him. You didn’t wake up that morning saying, “I"m gonna cave in that that fucker’s skull,” but there was certainly malice in your heart when you picked up the rebar.
Now let’s assume that your lawyer’s assessment of the case is correct. Do you think a person in such a situation has a moral obligation to plead guilty, if not to murder, but to some lesser offense and accept punishment (even a nominal one)? Regardless of that, would YOU plead guilty to a lesser offense?