One of the many mistakes I made was not considering the plea deal. They loved my upbringing and the life I made for myself. Blaire Perez, an Assistant US attorney (a boss), took the case herself – rare; they usually hand it off to a junior prosecutor. These stories make headlines. They loved that I was on the Board of Directors of UCSB (which I resigned from), college-educated, from a good family. Now, it’s a compelling story. You don’t pay attention to this stuff unless your involved but federal cases/convictions are big news (they almost always run TV/news articles on these cases). Taking this to trial was a time for the prosecution to shine. I didn’t know any of this…. I thought the opposite. They will investigate the case and believe I did not know about the drugs.
Do you know what it costs to defend a situation like this? Without significant resources, affording it seems impossible. It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you win you just keep your freedom (and your out your life savings). To give you perspective…we paid 25k on a new attorney, making ONE appearance for sentencing (just to wrap up my case). I’m not criticizing the fee; he claimed he was giving us a deal, which it probably was. That’s the cost of fighting. The fact the trial and charge were 600 miles from where I lived also added to the costs of transportation, housing and other expenses. Being subject to a criminal prosecution is also not a good line for your resume and job prospects.
The US Gov is the ULTIMATE GANGSTER, outspending you, with unlimited resources – choosing to use them or not. They even had time and resources to track down friends interesting to them, using lies to scare potential witnesses. It worked, freaking out most of my friends (some of my friends considered hiring attorneys). They called a buddy of mine from San Diego as a witness because I listed him on a standard form to pick up items. If I hadn’t have gone through this experience, I would not believe it. What the federal Gov can and will do to secure a conviction is terrifying.
Would it surprise you that one of the prosecutor’s go-to moves is to charge your innocent spouse/family member or even your KIDS to force you to take a plea? It’s called “coercive plea bargaining,” used more than you can imagine. Virtually anyone can be coerced into confessing their guilt under enough pressure – even the innocent. If the prosecution threatened to charge your family, just to mess with you…. your telling me you wouldn’t consider taking a plea to spare them?
Plea bargaining, as practiced today, has turned our criminal legal system into a cheap backroom shakedown. Very few crimes are solved because of direct evidence. Deciding your freedom has become a game, where justice, innocence/guilt, and your freedom play an insignificant role.