Never Use the Word Mistake

There are many times when I sit in Court and a Defendant will use the m-word.
For instance, “ I made a terrible mistake and it won’t happen again.” I always warn my clients to never say this word and I am always amazed when other Attorneys don’t warn their clients the same.

Often, a Judge hearing this, will admonish a Defendant saying, “ When you add 10 and 10 and get 21 that’s a mistake, but when you walk into a store decide to take something that does not belong to you or when you had three drinks and decided to drive, well that’s not a mistake. That’s something you decided to do.”

As I said, I always tell my clients not to say mistake, but instead, say something like, “I made a bad decision” or “I used poor judgment.” Don’t give the Judge a reason to hit the ceiling. If you commit a crime, unless it is truly a mistake such as you didn’t actually know what you were doing or have any idea that it was a crime, then, if you plead guilty or are found guilty, take responsibility.

The Judge wants to know that you know what you did and admit to be accountable for your actions.