But what if you confessed to drunk driving? And not during intense interrogation, but on your own volition? And recorded your confession on a video for all to see? Would you then plead not guilty?
That's precisely what happened in Ohio. In Matthew Cordle's online video, which went viral last week, the 22-year old man admitted to drinking with friends on June 22, getting into his truck, driving the wrong way on a road, and struck another vehicle, killing a 61-year old Navy veteran. Cordle, who turned himself in this week, said on the video that he would take responsibility for his actions and plead guilty.
But when he appeared in a Columbus court on Tuesday, Cordle pled not guilty to the charges. He was jailed on $250,000 bail and the judge canceled the arraignment.
So why did Cordle do what he did?
Legal experts say that the plea was just a tactic designed to get Cordle a different judge for his sentencing. Under Ohio law, a guilty plea locks in a judge for sentencing, which in this case could be 2 to 8 1/2 years in prison. But after the judge in the case reportedly stated that she didn't know what Cordle's sentence would be, he apparently changed his mind at the last minute. However, Cordle's legal team says that he will soon change his plea to guilty. Indeed, a different judge has been assigned to Cordle's case.
On the surface, the move by Cordle sounds crass and maddening. But given that Cordle probably wants to minimize his punishment, trying to find a judge who is more sympathetic to his plight is a wise move. That's yet another reason to secure the services of a qualified defense attorney if you are charged with DUI.