If you’re charged with any crime in the Long Island and New York City area, do not plead guilty, do not try to act as your own attorney, and if it’s at all possible, do not let yourself be represented by a public defender. Instead, get reliable and trustworthy legal help by contacting an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney. Pleading guilty on your own or at the urging of a public defender is not in your best interests, even though people apparently plead guilty all the time to crimes they did not commit.

According to the findings of the Innocence Project, about ten percent of those defendants who were later exonerated by DNA evidence through Innocence Project efforts pled guilty to a crime they did not commit. What would cause anyone to do that? The Honorable Jed S. Rakoff, United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York, examines that question in the November 20, 2014 New York Review of Books. The judge points to institutional pressures that lead innocent people to plead guilty, including the plea-bargaining system and the threat of mandatory minimum sentences.

In 2012, for example, the average sentence for federal narcotics defendants who entered into any kind of plea bargain was five years and four months, while the average sentence for defendants who went to trial was sixteen years. Public defenders are obviously unable to represent adequately all of their clients in courtroom trials, so they often recommend accepting the plea bargain offered by a prosecutor. Only an experienced, seasoned criminal defense attorney can be relied on to take your case to trial, if necessary, and to fight aggressively for justice on your behalf.

Even if a defendant doesn’t plead guilty, he or she may still be found guilty because of other circumstances. Those charged with crimes in the 21st century face a threat that they really should not have to face from the criminal justice system: the possibility that laboratory tests important to their cases has been corrupted or even, in some cases, intentionally falsified by crime lab technicians.

Lab tests can be corrupted by a technician’s negligence, but money might be even more corrupting. A number of crime labs are funded exclusively by fees that must be paid by defendants who are found guilty. Louisiana’s Acadiana Crime Lab receives $50 for each DUI conviction, and the fees are the lab’s only steady income. It’s also a $50 fee in Broward County, Florida, and in North Carolina, it’s $600 per conviction. It doesn’t take a lawyer to see the ethical problem and the conflict of interest when labs are paid only in cases that end with convictions.

Never plead guilty to any criminal charge against you, and do not accept a plea bargain unless a seasoned New York criminal defense lawyer advises you to do so. If you’re charged with any crime anywhere in or near the New York City area, get reliable legal representation and consult at once with an experienced Long Island criminal defense attorney.