Press-Republican

Columns

November 24, 2012

Defendants should detail their guilt

I’ve seen countless defendants in 33 years as lawyer and judge.

Most people charged with crime will plead guilty to something and will not go to trial. If allowed, they will stand quietly in court and plead guilty without admitting anything. Particularly in sex offenses or domestic violence, they will minimize their own behavior and blame the victim.

All of us make mistakes in life, especially when under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Sometimes, it is serious enough to break the law and to harm others. It is how the person responds to their wrongdoing that is the real measure of character. It says a great deal when people take responsibility for their actions, learn from their mistakes and change their behavior.

Some defendants immediately accept responsibility; they are honest and contrite about their behavior and are ready to change. This is relatively rare.

Others will respond to the expectations put on them by the court system. Many defendants are experts at manipulating, denying, minimizing and blaming others. This certainly applies to domestic-violence defendants but also to alcoholics, substance abusers and sex offenders. They’ve all been living dual lives, keeping secrets and avoiding responsibility.

HUMAN NATURE

Whether the defendants are charged with a sex offense, domestic violence, driving while intoxicated or another crime, many will avoid facing themselves and what they have done for as long as they are allowed to do so. That is human nature.

Accountability can start in court. A defendant who does not admit the facts of what he did is not likely to be a positive participant in a batterer’s, sex-offender or substance-abuse program.

Not every defendant will change, but the possibility of doing so is maximized by requiring admissions. A good time to break through the denial and minimization is in the courtroom at the guilty plea.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time