Alford PleasShould white collar defendants be allowed to enter Alford pleas?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'll say no.

Alford pleas are way more likely to affect the person doing the sentencing when they are entered by white collar defendants.  This is because white collar types seem more sympathetic to judges.  The white collar defendants are people just like the judges, not some young punk non-white person whom the judge is not going to identify with.

So when you have people like this entering Alford pleas, I think judges are more likely to be lenient with them than they would be with other types of criminal.  They'll think "well, maybe he's not really guilty" at least subconsciously. So I think that Alford pleas in such cases are more likely to lead to miscarriages of justice than they are in other types of cases.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have always found Alford please to be very interesting.  I do not see any reason why they should be allowed in white collar cases any differently than others.  I think that the only instance in which they would be considered is on a case by case basis.  The very concept of denying guilt has always implied to me that something funny is going on.  Either it is a matter or personal pride, or an injustice has been done and the person cannot get around it any other way.  I do not see any reasons for white collar crime to receive any special priority for Alford please.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interesting question. Of course, white collar crime is renowned in studies for the way that it is treated differently and often criminals are given lesser sentences and not even referred to as "criminals," even though their crimes are often bigger in some ways and the impact is much more widespread. I personally would say however that I don't think anybody should be able to submit an Alford plea as I don't really see the point. Alford pleas do not impact sentencing so what does an admission of limited guilt actually achieve?

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The amount of damage that computer hackers, for instance, create is certainly an argument against Alfred Pleas which some of these white-collar criminals have invoked.  Millions of dollars are lost through fraud and countless hours are lost to the consumer in clearing their names, etc.  Since there is much pain and suffering for these people whose identities have been stolen, there should not be any plea of innocence allowed for such veritable criminals.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't believe in Alford Pleas for anything.  The premise behind them is that the defendant pleads guilty, not admitting guilt, but acknowledging that they would likely be convicted on available evidence.  So if they would likely be convicted, why not send them to trial?  Aside from saving a little money I don't see the other benefit for the victims or the public, and as for white collar criminals, their punishment is typically much lighter anyway.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that a defendent is either guilty or not guilty, and if the defendent is guilty (or found guilty) he or she should have to be accountable for the crime. Allowing someone to use an Alford plea regardless of what crime does not require the criminal to be accountable. Even those who do the wrong thing for the right reason need to be held accountable. 

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do not agree with Alford Pleas for any type of crime. It seems to me that if a defendant admits there is enough evidence to support a conviction he needs to plead guilty with no strings attached.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You are either guilty or not guilt implies guilt.  Period.  I agree with my colleagues above, that Alford pleas should not be considered or allowed to be entered for any case.