Bob is accused of a crime (let's say murder). Bob is a self-hating man who wants to be punished. He admits to the crime, and hires a lawyer to push forth his guilty plea. The prosecution, however, doesn't want to convict him of the crime, because they believe that the true culprit is still out there, and that Bob is just being ridiculous.

In this case, is it possible to have a trial where the prosecution is trying to prove Bob's innocence, while the defense is trying to prove Bob's guilt?

Edit: if it's so hard to believe that "the state" would prosecute for a case like this, then assume that the case is between two private parties. E.g. Bob admits to murdering Penny's pet cat. Penny trusts Bob, and wants to prove that he didn't murder her cat.

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    Defense lawyer: "I believe my client is guilty of this crime". Prosecuting attorney: "Objection! I aim to prove that his client is innocent!" Judge: "I need a drink." Commented Feb 23, 2023 at 23:08
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    @user57467 I admit it, I only ask this question as what might plausibly make for an interesting story xD
    – chausies
    Commented Feb 23, 2023 at 23:11
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    @ chausies, I know. I'm just having a little fun with it. Commented Feb 23, 2023 at 23:11

2 Answers 2


He cannot enter a Guilty Plea until he has been charged with a crime.

He would only be charged with a crime if the Prosecution believes they have enough evidence for a conviction.

If they believe "the true culprit is still out there", they would not arrest or charge or attempt to prosecute "Bob".

He can hire an attorney, and go on TV and say he is guilty, and beg to be prosecuted. The District Attorney (or similar Office) can simply respond, "We are aware of the claims by Bob. At this time, we do not have enough evidence to support charging Bob with a crime. The investigation continues."

Somewhat ironically, if they have substantial evidence that Bob is not the murderer, he can then be charged with Making a False Report.

  • The most likely explanations for Bob's conduct are insanity, in which case a different court could consider whether he's a danger to himself or others, or he's trying to pervert the course of justice by deflecting attention from the real murderer.
    – Mary
    Commented Feb 24, 2023 at 0:35
  • Even more ironically, in E&W (and possibly the rest of the UK) perverting the course of justice is a common-law offence which has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, the same as murder. Commented Feb 24, 2023 at 10:11

There would be no need. The prosecution has complete discretion to stay (abandon) a prosecution or even decline to embark on one in the first place.

And in the case of a private prosecution, the Attorney General has the right to intervene and take control of or stay the prosecution. Private prosecutions are so rare that there would be a careful eye on any of them from the Attorney General.

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