Tag: Abby Wearden

The Alford Plea: Do the Cons Outweigh the Pros?

by Abby Wearden

In Baltimore Maryland in the year 1998, James L. Owens and James A. Thompson were both convicted of the rape and murder of 24-year old college student Colleen Williar (1). In 2006, new DNA evidence surfaced regarding this crime that showed that both semen and blood samples found on the crime scene were not matches to either Owens or Thompson. With this new information, both men were potentially up for a retrial, and having this in mind, State prosecutors offered both men Alford Pleas. This plea, receiving its name sake from the 1969 Supreme Court case North Carolina v. Alford (2), is defined by the Legal Information Institute as “Also known as a ‘best interest plea’, an Alford registers as a formal claim of neither guilt nor innocence of charges brought against a defendant in criminal court….an Alford plea arrests the full process of a criminal trial because the defendant–typically, only with the courts permission—accepts all ramifications of a guilty verdict without first attesting to having committed the crime”(3). The Alford plea would allow both men to say they were innocent, be immediately removed from jail, but would legally they would still remain guilty and carry this crime on their records.