In a vacuum, that prostitute’s case probably would have been tossed out. There was something with the arrest, and if it were somehow to go all the way to trial, the state would probably lose, a fact seemingly recognized by all sides in their brief, ten-second deliberation.
But the state doesn’t have to win at trial, a truth captured in another common expression in this courtroom: “The punishment is the process.”
Matt Taibbi, in The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap
Taibbi goes on to write:
… essentially, charging a person who can’t make bail with a B misdemeanor is the same as convicting that person. You file the charge, the judge sets high bail, you go back inside, and then you eventually plead to time served, because, well, why not? You’ve already done the time.
The only difference is, you’ve got a conviction now, which means the next time you get arrested, the denial of bail – or a punishingly high bail – will be even more automatic.