Amicus Curiae Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Support of Defendant.
Argument: The criminal justice system is a system of plea negotiations that gives prosecutors enormous leverage over criminal defendants. Defendants face a higher sentence if they go to trial, which drives many defendants to take a plea bargain. This “trial penalty” means that some innocent defendants plead guilty. Defendants who plead guilty while maintaining their innocence should not be subject to a sanction of criminal contempt for doing so. Prosecutors may have wholly laudable reasons to dismiss cases even after a plea, and courts should not chill such actions with the threat of a contempt sanction.