For any defendant facing federal charges, the pressure to plead guilty is very strong. There are two main reasons for this: 1) the extreme financial burden of going to trial with a private lawyer; and 2) the long sentence that waits those who lose at trial. So when actress Lori Loughlin, her husband, and many other accused parents, decided to plead guilty in the college admission case, it was not very surprising. The cost of defending oneself in a federal criminal case can run run hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars. Additionally, long prison terms often await those who are convicted at trial. What is particularly disturbing in Loughlin’s case, was the decision to bring additional charges, once she indicated her desire to go to trial. Any seasoned criminal defense lawyer has seen this tactic before – and the reality is that it scares clients. It worked on Loughlin, who accepted a plea with an agreed recommended prison term of 60 days. If she had proceeded to trial, she would likely have faced 4-5 years in prison, if convicted. The real tragedy in this, and many other cases, is the immense pressure to plead guilty instead of going to trial.
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