In The Untouchables, the Judge, knowing that all the juries were paid, finally decides to switch jury with another trial going in the near room.

Al Capone's lawer first objects this decision, but when he knows he can't object he instantly decides to plead guilty, without any consultation with Capone. Why would he prefer pleading guilty over a neutral jury?

You can watch the scene here.

1 Answer 1


Because the lawyer knew, just as well as Capone did, that he (Capone) was guilty as sin. There's no way they'd be able to win the case without having bought off the jury, so he immediately surrendered.

Of course, this immediate reversal was probably done mostly for the benefit of the film. In reality, the lawyer did not immediately change his plea, as shown in the film - although he did write a letter to the prosecution, expressing his willingness to settle after the juries were swapped. (The jury-swap trick totally happened IRL.)

You can read a summary of the historical trial proceedings here, if you're interested. (Scroll down to the section titled "The Trial" to skip the preamble.)

  • If the film is accurate, that means that there is no evidence that Capone did anything wrong. So he wasn't "guilty as sin"! It was the CIA! They killed Kennedy and they framed Capone! It's pure truth! Commented May 3, 2017 at 20:08
  • 4
    There was no evidence of his bootlegging, extortion and other general crimes, but none of that is what he was put on trial for - he was put on trial for tax evasion. He didn't pay taxes for a good 5 years (in particular, he didn't pay taxes on the income he generated from his other crimes - because duh, he got the money illegally), and there was plenty of evidence to prove that.
    – Steve-O
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 20:33
  • But let's say with a trial he has 99% chances to lose... by pleading guilty he has 100% chances to lose, doesn't he? Commented May 4, 2017 at 6:41
  • 4
    @SilverBebs Generally, courts give more favourable sentences to people who are guilty and please as such.
    – SGR
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 7:53

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