Absurd settlements


If a person is innocent, they wouldn’t be doing community service and paying compensation to victims. The part of the settlement that allows the offender to not admit guilt is completely ridiculous. It frequently happens in civil lawsuits, where companies avoid admitting guilt but pay large settlements to the plaintiffs.

The constitution already prohibits double jeopardy, so if the defendant here admits guilt and the criminal case is resolved, it’s not going to be reopened.

However, other consequences may happen outside of the court room based on that guilt, and for that reason it’s an injustice to allow a defendant to both avoid admitting guilt and serve time or money. It is especially unjust because it is offered to the minority of rich and powerful and connected people more than it is to the rest of the people. The rest of the people get an offer to admit that they are guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence. This rich and powerful and connected defendant gets an offer to not admit guilt and get a reduced sentence.

How things should be different:

Admission of guilt in exchange for a reduced sentence saves the government money in prosecuting the case, but the reduced sentence cannot be so far reduced that it becomes unjust. If restitution is owed to victims, including actual damages to the government itself, it cannot be reduced because the victims don’t benefit from the government saving time and money on the prosecution. A reduced sentence in a criminal trial can only be for reduced punitive fines (not actual damages) and reduced jail or prison time (and only if it makes sense for the crime).

No such deal can be made without admission of guilt. If a person is innocent they should not pay anything or serve any time at all, so if they want to claim innocence, which people who make deals always do, they cannot accept a reduced sentence. It’s absurd.

Therr should be a people’s defense corps that provides free defense lawyers, what are called in the United States a public defender, who are paid by the government but are not government employees. If someone is innocent, and they don’t have money to pay for their own attorney, the people’s defense corps should always be able to provide a criminal defense attorney free of charge. For this reason, an innocent person never has to settle. If the people’s defense corps does not have an available attorney due to workload, this is a legitimate reason to delay the trial. When this happens , it should trigger a review to determine if this is a temporary spike in workload or if it will be sustained and the corps needs more associate attorneys, which also means an increase in government funding to the corps.

If a defense attorney is not convinced that their client is innocent, they can resign or give the benefit of doubt. However, if a defense attorney finds evidence of guilt or the client admits guilt, it would be an injustice to pursue an acquittal — the attorney must resign and disclose to the judge in a sealed affidavit what happened that led to the resignation.

Conversely, if a prosecutor learns that the defendant is innocent they must drop the charges. If it is later found that a prosecutor won a conviction knowing the defendant was innocent, the prosecutor is guilty of a violation of the right to fair trial.

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