A tiny fraction of drug defendants in federal cases chose to go to trial instead of pleading guilty.
A new report from Human Rights Watch indicates that just 3% of defendants charged with drugs choose to go to trial, the Huffington Post reports.
The reason: The excessive penalties for drugs, according to the report.
“Prosecutors can say, ‘Take these 10 years or, if you get a trial and are convicted, you’re going to look at life,’” said Fellner, an attorney who specializes in criminal justice issues at Human Rights Watch. “That’s a pretty amazing power that unfortunately they are more than willing to wield.”
In effect, defendants feel forced to plead guilty in plea agreements to avoid lengthy prison sentence, whether they’re guilty or not.