What was Sen. Craig thinking?

No, not in his recent turnaround, but in his original decision to plead guilty. Fellow blogger Karoli e-mailed me while I was on vacation and asked this very question (here‘s her post on the topic). She writes:

Well, if you get this, I’d love to hear your take on why Sen. Craig would plead guilty to charges of solicitation when he didn’t appear to do anything wrong. I just heard the tape and unless pickups in restrooms are incredibly nuanced, he should have simply fought it.

Now, I haven’t heard the tape, but I can imagine why a criminal defendant (which he is) would plead guilty rather quickly (3 months is relatively quickly). Probably the biggest reason is that they just want to get it over with. My understanding is that this charge isn’t a felony; just a misdemeanor. Penalties for misdemeanors aren’t severe – usually a fine or jail time less than a year. It’s a minor charge and to prevent it dragging out for a while, they plead guilty to get it over with and move on.

Offers are also better in cases like these. If the attorney talks to the prosecutors and says that the client will plead today, but the offer must come down a bit, the State is likely to bite. They have a defendant willing to take a plea, which saves the State time and energy and money, so they’re more inclined to make a good offer.

Regular defendants (read: those who can’t make bail) also want to prevent sitting in jail pre-trial as much as possible. Their reasoning is that if they’re going to be held, they might as well plead quickly and start serving their sentence asap.

Sen. Craig, I suspect, also wanted to get this news out of the media glare as soon as possible. His wasn’t an enviable position to be in, given his stance on gay marriage. The longer it stays in the spotlight, the worse he looks. Out of sight, out of mind.

It could also be that he just got bad advice from his attorney. Hey, it’s been known to happen.

As to what is motivating him to reconsider his decision to plead guilty, I have no idea. I’m less convinced that he’ll be able to withdraw his plea of guilty.

2 thoughts on “What was Sen. Craig thinking?

  1. Karoli

    George is right — he took the plea without any legal advice at all. It seems to have been one of those situations where they said, well hey, seeing as how you’re a US Senator and all, we’ll make this go away if you do this…

    I’m guessing he probably is gay and was soliciting an encounter. But he didn’t offer money and he didn’t do anything. It’s not like he was caught in the act or anything, so what exactly is his criminal behavior here?

    I know other bloggers have said this already, but it really frosts me that men can go into a bar and send a drink to a woman they don’t know as a message that they want to have sex with them and no cop would even blink an eye. But when it’s a gay encounter, well then, hey…it must be a crime.

    If Craig had any balls at all, he’d have fought the charge and accepted the publicity. Given the absolute hyperbole of his so-called colleagues’ public condemnations, he’d probably get more support by coming out and giving them all the finger in the process.


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