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Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

The terrifying truth of how innocent law abiding citizens are thrown in Missouri prisons and held against their will for years. The time it takes to read this article could save you years of your life.

By Sherrie PoguePublished 6 years ago 16 min read
Top Story - August 2018

Innocent People Doing Time

Many Americans find themselves in court facing charges they are innocent of. Something as simple as a a coworker making false accusations of theft to cover up their own guilt in order to dodge consequences can land you in prison for 15 years. People without any prior experience in the court systems live in a world of; “That will never happen to me”. In reality it happens to people just like you every single day. Innocent people who follow the letter of the law in every area of their lives. People who believed they were immune prior to the charges being filed. Immune to the horror stories they’ve heard of the justice system. People who always questioned the legitimacy of these stories as if they were tall tales designed to scare people.

One of the absolute worst feelings you will ever encounter is the utter feeling of helplessness you experience when you realize your knowledge of the inner workings of the judicial system is fabricated. The realization that you may be restrained and locked in a cage for years of your life based on money and politics will take your breath away. For a quick minute you will believe you are mistaken. You will say they can’t do that. Just as quickly, the thought is gone when you realize they can and they will. You will make countless phone calls each time with hope that you are wrong. The hope you hung onto in the beginning is slowly removed piece by piece until you become tired of making phone calls and you surrender to reality.

'Law and Order Criminal Intent' isn't real?

Unless you are familiar with the judicial system, you can’t even begin to know how the system works. Mainstream media and t.v. shows portray a fair and reasonable system most of the time. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Innocent until proven guilty is not reality. In fact, when all is said and done you will find you are treated guilty until proven innocent.

Anyone can file a complaint against you with a simple statement and you will wake up in a living nightmare and fighting for your life. Once the justice system is activated to determine your fate, you will be forced to spend an undefined amount of money to stay out of prison. It may take years of your life to restore your life as it once was. Initially, you may feel confident that a simple explanation to prosecutors will end the nightmare. Very quickly you realize this is not the case.

Why do I have to turn myself in if I am innocent until proven guilty?

In an innocent until proven guilty environment being locked in a jail cell and spending tens of thousands of dollars to get out does not make you feel innocent. Having a mugshot everyone you know can view online is also not conducive to being treated as if you are innocent. Explaining to potential employers or creditors a felony warrant for your arrest is not normal for innocent people.

To make matters worse it is quite possible to sit in county jail for years while facing false charges. If you are poor, unable to post bond, and don’t own any assets to liquidate, you will be held until trial. You will sit in jail while weeks go by. Court dates are extended due to conflicting schedules and you will not be released until the money is generated for your bond. Bonds can easily be anywhere from a grand to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Being held in a county jail cell because you are poor and only charged with a crime is against your rights as an American. Also, the situation doesn’t leave you feeling innocent until proven guilty.

The Midwest Innocence Project said Independent studies estimate two to five percent of all felony convicts in the U.S. are wrongly imprisoned. “Even if it’s only two to five percent, that’s a lot of people in our five-state region. That’s like 5,000 people,” said Tricia Bushnell, Midwest Innocence Project director.

Probable Cause

PROBABLE CAUSE: Police officers usually make arrests based only on whether they have good reason (probable cause) to believe a crime has been committed. By contrast, prosecutors can file formal charges only if they believe that they can prove a suspect guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Prosecutors in Missouri are required to show no significant evidence to support probable cause. The standards for probable cause are loose at best. Probable cause can be as simple as the prosecutor believes you are guilty and feels he can prove it in court. Prosecutors enjoy an immunity that makes it difficult if not impossible to hold them accountable for lack of reasonable doubt. After all, the prosecutor need only believe they can prove someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They are not required to show evidence or actually pull it off.

Prosecutorial Immunity

PROSECUTORIAL IMMUNITY: is the absolute immunity that prosecutors in the United States have in initiating a prosecution and presenting the state's case. "Firming up what had long been held as common practice, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976 ruled in Imbler v. Pachtman that prosecutors cannot face civil lawsuits for prosecutorial abuses, no matter how severe.

I’ve found common opinions with court staff, correctional staff, and prosecutors, are frightening at best. What I’ve read and been told is alarming. As unfortunate as it is, innocent casualties are necessary for many reasons. It is said better to lose a small percentage of innocent people in the system than to award guilty defendants any additional openings to beat their case. A correctional officer once told me that most of the time people are guilty. He believed sacrificing a small percentage of people will protect the public from guilty offenders who will reoffend. I admit it sounds good at first until you or someone you love is a casualty of the judicial game.

Some say prosecutorial accountability will result in an abundance of civil suits and will become a hindrance on a prosecutors time available to perform job duties. Some believe this will make it easier for criminals to win their case. It has been said civil suits against prosecutors will also cause budget problems. It would be costly if prosecutors need to defend themselves in court. If the prosecutors were available for suit in civil court, the system would be bogged down with frivolous civil cases. If we are able to sue prosecutors for misconduct and demand stricter guidelines when filing charges, incarcerating guilty people is more difficult. However, for that two to five percent of innocent people who make up the percentage of casualties a different story is told.

This opinion is as bizarre as it is inaccurate. Being familiar with researching civil attorneys for a potential lawsuit I’ve personally found the opposite is true. Just because someone wants to file suit doesn’t mean they will find an attorney to do so. It is very rare that an attorney will actually take a frivolous civil case. If frivolous cases are brought to civil attorneys, they are more than happy to cut someone off and tell them they won’t take the case.

Please give this stance some serious thought. Are you more interested in preserving your constitutional rights or are you concerned about state budgets? Do you believe it is acceptable to give up your rights as an American rather than assist in increasing local and state budgets? Do you really believe a prosecutor or any official who holds the power to destroy your life, lock you in a cell, or recommend the state takes your life, should be immune to accountability when it comes to minor and severe prosecutorial abuses?

Claiming a small percentage of innocent people being incarcerated is a small price to pay does not sit well if you are the one who is swept into the slow wheels of the judicial system. No matter what the price, the pay should never be an innocent person’s life and future.

Let’s make a deal...

Nine times out of ten a plea agreement is taken in criminal cases. In the interest of relieving the courts of expensive prosecutions and overbooked courtrooms, prosecutors are free to offer deals to defendants in order to convince innocent and guilty people into pleading guilty. Taking a plea relieves the state of costly trials. A plea deal means the prosecution wins by default and no work is necessary to prove guilt. The very nature of a plea deal is coercion at it’s best which is a punishable crime.

co·ercepersuade (an unwilling person) to do something by using force or threats."they were coerced into silence":pressure, pressurize, press, push, constrain;obtain (something) by using force or threats."their confessions were allegedly coerced by torture."
In law, coercion is codified as a duress crime. Such actions are used as leverage, to force the victim to act in a way contrary to their own interests. Coercion may involve the actual infliction of physical pain/injury or psychological harm in order to enhance the credibility of a threat.

Prosecutors will reduce your sentence and give you probation and fines if you admit guilt even if you are innocent. This removes incarceration altogether. If you still face prison time, it is significantly reduced in a plea deal. If you don’t, the consequence will be more severe in the the end if you are found guilty. Innocent people take guilty pleas every day because they are threatened with maximum sentences. The consequences of not taking a plea are so severe if found guilty, the risk is not worth it.

In many cases a plea deal is the difference between life and death. If you are innocent or not the death penalty will be completely removed from your list of options in a plea deal. When you come to the stage of the process where plea deals are offered, you begin to realize you are involved in a corrupt system. The system is designed to deny you of your civil liberties and constitutional rights. You begin to feel trapped and scared. Not many people will choose to take a risk such as facing death, if given any other option.

Upon hiring a lawyer, the bill begins to rack up very quickly. For most people the financial burden is immediate. It is commonplace to need a $5000.00 retainer just for a lawyer to enter on your case. The money is payable in full before any type of work is initiated on your behalf. You are offered a plea deal and informed that consequences of not taking the deal are serious. If you refuse the deal you force the prosecution into a trial. The deal is immediately removed from the table. You cannot take the deal later.

Plea agreements are designed to coerce you into accepting your charges guilty or not. You are usually advised by your attorney to take the deal. The realization of the exact nature of how the judicial system works seals the deals for prosecutors.

A good trial attorney can easily cost five to ten thousand dollars down.This money is payable in full before any work is done in your case and additional money will be needed for the duration of the trial. If you choose to reject the prosecutions offer, the prosecution comes at you full force. You are awarded little time to generate the money it takes to pay for an attorney.

The consequences are so much worse than the alternative that admitting guilt even if you are innocent becomes worth it. Relieving yourself of the anxiety and stress associated with facing a trial is almost worth pleading guilty when you are innocent. The most interesting part is the ethics involved. Ethically all lawyers, including the prosecution, are instructed to never advise a person to claim guilt when innocent. Both sides, the prosecution and the defense, ignore this ethics guideline on a regular basis just to keep their numbers up.

Interesting enough. all the lawyers, judges, and court staff, socialize outside of court hours on a regular basis. They have parties at bars in private rooms and golf together. Their spouses are friends. They rub elbows and trade favors in the courtrooms. It is common for your lawyer to mention a favor owed to him by the prosecutor that may help your stance. Sometimes choosing an attorney is as simple as finding the most socially popular attorney in the area.

Noteworthy is the fact that law firms donate large sums of money to the campaigns of judges running for re-election. A good way to find a suitable lawyer is to look online at public record showing which law firm donated the most amount of money to your judge. Don’t count on being appointed an attorney either. Even if you possess little or no assets and live paycheck to paycheck, it is very possible you may not qualify for a public defender.

Your right to an attorney?

Being able to afford an attorney is important when facing the judicial system. It is not because they are better lawyers than public defenders. In reality, it is because they lack the resources and time of private law firms. A private firm offers unparalleled resources to their partners. Attorneys are backed by paralegals, secretaries, and other lawyers, to bounce ideas off of. Budgets are plentiful to hire experts and outsource investigators. Private attorney’s are paid significantly higher salaries than state appointed attorneys. In the public defender's office there are usually no paralegals. As a matter of fact, it is not abnormal for attorneys to answer phones and direct calls. The workload is unmanageable leaving little time for research along with nobody to assist. The state budget is limited so public defenders are working at a disadvantage from day one.

Isn’t the best person for the job the one with the most experience?

A large percentage of people are oblivious of procedures in the court systems. This is usually because they are law abiding citizens. They never find themselves in a position where they experience the full process of the court system. These are the same people who are deciding how things will be. People with no experience in felony convictions and the process it takes to be convicted are deciding the fate of the judicial and penal system. They are the only votes that count.

Your right to vote is removed for life if you are found guilty of a felony. I am not clear on why this is necessary, especially since we openly admit we have innocent people locked in prisons currently. Why can’t a felon offer an opinion through their vote. What purpose does that serve? Is it realistic to say that anyone convicted of a crime will never be capable of offering their input on how the state is run? These are the people in the prisons who walk through the system. People with experience in the system are the most important opinions to be heard. Why are people with all the experience and knowledge of the inner workings of our prisons and court systems not allowed to assist in improving our system?

Nobody is perfect.

The same government officials who are playing God with people's lives and futures are on a daily basis seen on the news for a whole slew of reasons. They are caught taking bribes or in hotels with underage girls. They are charged with multiple DWI’s but never forced to do the time in jail you and I would do if charged with the same crime. They are addicted to drugs and alcohol. I’m not implying all government officials are guilty of this. I am merely saying they are only human just like you and I. They put their pants on one leg at a time. To say they are protected from the very laws they enforce is ludicrous no matter what the justification.

Prosecutors are rarely held to any standards. We must bring reform that will hold prosecutors accountable to face consequences for depriving citizens of their rights. Often prosecutors spend their whole career in office or at least most of it. This is due to lack of competition in elections. They win by default. Not many lawyers will run against a prosecutor in elections because they may face these same prosecutors in the courts eventually if they don’t win the election. Plea deals are prominent. Obtaining good plea offers for your clients is all about rubbing elbows with the right people. Attorneys don’t want to be in the dog house with prosecutors.

Prosecutors are immune to being held accountable for questionable decisions which affect citizens in such a way that lives are ruined and families are torn apart. Never should any member of government be awarded immunity from accountability. This is the root of many issues within the judicial system.

Basic Civil Liberties and Human Rights

To have one of our citizens imprisoned for a crime they did not commit is a travesty. Two to five percent in the region is unacceptable. Prosecutors are interested in numbers. It is a competition. It is a way to secure votes from people who are ignorant of the processes of the judicial system. Prosecutors in Missouri, specifically Hillsboro, Missouri, are known to prosecute fully even on the weakest of cases with no solid evidence and based on hearsay. The Attorney General of Missouri will drag someone through years of this.

Cases are won over and over in appellate court and they will still do everything they can to punish an innocent person. I personally won a case four times and now they want to take it to the Supreme Court. They have drug this situation out for almost five years of my life and I have lost everything. They get extensions. Every possible extension possible. They wait until the last possible minute to file documents, sometimes filing documents late and then filing to request late filings. Every possible extension they can file for is filed for. I have lost everything because of a frivolous complaint filed against me and since prosecutors couldn’t get the first charge to stick they filed a whole new case.

There is absolutely no reason for the prosecutors to harrass me like this. They have absolutely no evidence that is legitimate and not hearsay against me. I have no options but to wait as many years as it takes for the State of Missouri to run out of filings. After it is all said and done, I am unable to hold them responsible for the extreme damage they have caused to my life, my children’s life, and our future. Prosecutorial immunity at it’s best. The devastation criminal charges bring upon a person and their family is shocking. Financially, a false criminal charge is devastating. Attorney retainers, the inability to pass a background check, and credit issues will stop you in your tracks Filing charges every time a complaint is received is not the answer. Destroying people's futures and causing the loss of jobs, homes, and entire lives, is absolutely unacceptable.

As citizens of The United States of America we enjoy a number of important civil liberties under the veil of the U.S. Constitution.Throughout the years these basic fundamental rights that make our country so great are being manipulated and many times outright ignored.


In today’s world people are vindictive, unpredictable, and irrational. It is commonplace for a domestic dispute to end in false accusations and drama. Also common are people who become aggressive and relentless based on pride and ego. Trusting the general public in written statements based on opinions and one sided versions of a story is unacceptable. There must be strict guidelines developed. The Bill of Rights and American Constitution demand we devise a different way. As long as probable cause and prosecutorial immunity remain as is, the people of Missouri are in trouble. Many Americans are being stripped of their protections under the constitution and nobody seems to care. Reform is mandatory and must be addressed immediately.

The death penalty is a very permanent punishment for a crime committed. So what happens if you are innocent? What if no-one will listen? It appears Marcellus Williams is the perfect person to ask about this.

Marcellus literally counted down the hours to his scheduled demise and was spared his date with death. Even though every attempt at appealing his sentence failed he was saved by our new Governor of Missouri, Governor Greitens.


About the Creator

Sherrie Pogue

Writing is my passion. I write about sensitive subjects in an effort to spread knowledge and raise awareness. If you'd like to leave a tip, it is always appreciated. To get my blogs follow me here:

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