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Why Do Some People Plead Guilty To Crimes They Did Not Commit?

Sunday July 5, 2015

Why Do Some People Plead Guilty To Crimes They Did Not Commit?

A Man Wrongly Charged Says Laws Need To Change


The image of someone unjustly accused of a crime is a strong one in popular culture, used time and again as the basis for movies such as “The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Green Mile” and “The Fugitive.”


David Merkatz says he knows what it’s like to sit in a jail cell, facing charges that never should have been brought again him, and the impact that can have long after the case is dropped.


Merkatz, a locksmith, was arrested after he hit upon a business strategy of creating a series of locksmith company names that were similar to names of existing companies. He says his method of siphoning off his competitors’ business “might not have been nice,” but it was legal and, at most, the companies should have made civil claims against him over trademark infringement, not criminal complaints.


But one of the “victims” had ties to local government. Merkatz says that’s how he and two other locksmiths ended up in jail, charged with a host of crimes ranging from money laundering to petty theft. Eventually, the charges were dropped, but Merkatz says he was damaged in many ways by the ordeal.

“You are really guilty until proven innocent in this country,” says Merkatz, who wrote a book about his experience titled “Wrongly Charged: A Look at the Legal System.”

“Even if you are found not guilty of a crime, your reputation is tarnished.”


Although he and the other two locksmiths were not convicted, Merkatz says the law enforcement investigation took a toll in financial resources and in the stress of not knowing whether they would go to prison.


“I believe that until the laws of this country are changed to level the playing field for defendants there will always be innocent people sitting in jail or executed,” Merkatz says. “Others will lose their jobs, their friends and the reputations because of false accusations.


“That’s why ordinary citizens must understand their rights and remain diligent in fighting for them.”

special guest

David Merkatz


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The Insurance Corner A monthly segment with Insurance Consumer Advocate, J.D. Howard founder of the insurance Consumer Advocate network