How much do you know about America’s Guilty Plea Problem?

05.05.17 By Innocence Staff

In January, we worked with the Innocence Network to launch a campaign that exposes the problem with a broken criminal justice system that heavily relies on guilty pleas.

Take this quiz to learn the most important facts about guilty pleas across the United States. Any surprises? Let us know how you did below in the comments.

If you pleaded guilty to a crime you didn’t commit, we want to hear from you.

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Sheri May 6, 2017 at 3:59 pm Reply   

You probably did the right thing Todd. Had you been found guilty at trial, getting the conviction overturned would have been nearly impossible. Innocence Projects get hundreds and hundreds of letters year asking for assistance and they accept a very tiny fraction of them. In order to bring a post conviction action, typically there has to be newly discovered evidence, something that wasn’t known at the time of trial, but discovered after your conviction that would prove your innocence. Simply being innocent isn’t a cause of action. Because Justice projects are non-profit organizations and are run strictly by volunteers, they have to be very selective in what cases they accept to work with. They will only take cases in which there are legal grounds that can be proven, such as with DNA, or some other hard evidence. They likely would not have taken your case and you would have been sitting in prison for many years for a crime you did not commit. I’m sorry you had to plead guilty to something you didn’t do. You are another victim of a very broken system.

Todd Swail May 6, 2017 at 7:52 am Reply   


I was falsely accused by my ex wife of assault with a deadly weapon and another charge of terrosistic threat/deadly conduct. In the felony case of assault with a deadly weapon I requested a trial by jury. The day of the trial the prosecution offered another plea deal to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor deferred adjudication. The second charge the prosecutor offered a plea of guilty for misdemeanor differed. I took each of the pleas of guilty for the deferred and to avoid trial and possably found guilty and sent to prison for 25 yrs. my Lawyer told me to take the plea “it’s a gift”. So in a way I was coreresed and made to believe that I could go to prison for crimes I did not commit. I wasn’t willing to gamble on a jury’s fate. I was scared. I took the plea. Now I can’t get the charges off my record. Even though they are deferred. It’s going to take more money for a lawyer to try and have the charges expunged or sealed. It has also cost me jobs and future employment. I’m broke and practically homeless. My life has been ruined over false alagations, over zealous police and prosecutors. I guess it could be worse. I could be in prison with the loss of freedom. On the other hand. I could have faught the conviction in prison with the innocence project and would have been compinsated for being innocent incarcerated. There is no compinsation for innocent people who opt out of jury trial for s plea bargain.

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