The problem is that if you choose to exercise this right, they'll throw the book at you. Because they want you to plead guilty. From the Houston Chronicle:
"Our criminal justice system is broke; it needs to be completely revamped," declared Terry Nelson, who was a federal agent for over 30 years and is on the executive board of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. "They have the power, and if you don't play the game, they'll throw the book at you."Is this case a 56-year old grandmother and first-time offender was convicted of conspiracy to smuggle a ton of cocaine from Mexico. She maintains her innocence. Had she plead guilty, she would have got a few years behind bars. But because she demanded her constitutional right to jury trial, they sentenced her to life without parole.
Castillo maintains her innocence, saying she was tricked into unknowingly helping transport drugs and money for a big trafficker in Mexico. But she refused to plead guilty and went to trial.
In 2010, of 1,766 defendants prosecuted for federal drug offenses in the Southern District of Texas - a region that reaches from Houston to the border - 93.2 percent pleaded guilty rather than face trial, according to the U.S. government. Of the defendants who didn't plead not guilty, 10 defendants were acquitted at trial. Also, 82 saw their cases dismissed.
The statistics are similar nationwide.