Chief Keef, a Chicago area rapper whose real name is Keith Cozart, reportedly pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges stemming from an arrest last month in Highland Park. According to officers, Cozart’s vehicle was stopped after they noticed its registration had expired.
When he was pulled over, officers say, it became apparent that he had drugs in his car. Police said they could smell burnt marijuana in Cozart’s vehicle and that he failed a sobriety test. In any case, Cozart pleaded not guilty to charges of driving under the influence of marijuana. Sources didn’t provide any details regarding the plea or any statements from Cozart or his attorney.
The decision to plead guilty or not guilty is an important one in the criminal process, and can either be a wise decision or a risky decision. In cases where a defendant wants to challenge some aspect of the police investigation, for instance, a not guilty plea may be a good strategy. Doing so would allow the criminal process to go forward so that the defendant is able to have certain evidence excluded from trial.
In other cases, prosecutors may approach the defendant with a deal that involves dismissing certain charges in exchange for a guilty plea to one charge. Such deals should not be taken without the advice and guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, but they can be beneficial in some cases.
The decision about how to plead in any criminal case always belongs ultimately to the defendant. Although defense attorneys can provide zealous advocacy and guidance on strategy, they ultimately have to respect to the defendant’s wishes regarding how to plead.
Source: Highland Park News, “Rapper Chief Keef pleads not guilty to drug charge,” Jim Newton Sun Times Media, April 11, 2014.