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Does Mike Ross Go to Prison in Suits?

Fans of the hit legal drama Suits were shocked when Mike Ross, one of the show’s central characters, was accused of conspiracy to commit fraud. As investigators closed in, the threat of Mike going to prison loomed large. Did Mike’s photographic memory and legal brilliance allow him to avoid incarceration? Or did he end up serving hard time for the fake lawyer scam?

Mike’s Dealings as a Fraudulent Lawyer

Mike Ross, played by Patrick J. Adams, was the brash young star lawyer at fictional New York firm Pearson Specter Litt. But Mike had a big secret – he never actually attended law school or passed the bar exam.

Harvey Specter, played by Gabriel Macht, had discovered Mike’s genius mind while the young man made extra cash taking LSATs for others. Harvey hired Mike and conspired to conceal his lack of a law degree. Together, they perpetuated an elaborate ruse that allowed Mike to practice law for years despite no credentials.

Mike’s scam started to unravel in season 5 when investor Charles Forstman threatened to expose the secret, hoping to ruin Harvey and the firm. Initially, Harvey got Forstman to back off. But the danger wasn’t over.

Later, Mike began dating fellow lawyer Rachel Zane, played by Meghan Markle. Rachel discovered Mike’s secret, but agreed to remain silent. As their relationship got more serious, Mike considered coming clean until circumstances forced his hand.

Mike Gets Arrested for Fraud

In the season 5 finale, Mike and Harvey had a nasty blow up. Their relationship appeared severed for good. Meanwhile, investigator Sean Cahill was putting heat on Pearson Specter Litt over their shady business dealings with client Liberty Rail.

With his personal life and career in shambles, Mike made the ill-fated decision to burn his bridges further. He went to Cahill and cut a deal, agreeing to testify against Harvey and the firm in exchange for immunity.

But Harvey was tipped off to Mike’s betrayal. In the closing moments of the finale, Mike was arrested outside the courtroom right before he could perjure himself on the stand against Harvey and the firm.

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Mike was slapped with criminal charges of conspiracy to commit fraud for posing as a real lawyer despite no law degree. His illegal ruse had finally caught up to him and Mike was facing serious prison time.

Harvey was forced to distance himself from Mike for the firm’s protection. Mike found himself in the fight of his life to stay out of jail and salvage his damaged relationships.

Does Mike End Up in Prison?

In the aftermath of Mike’s arrest, season 6 chronicles his struggles to beat the charges. Rachel secures him excellent legal counsel in her father, Robert Zane. But Mike is plagued by guilt, believing he deserves punishment for his lies.

Midway through the season, Mike choices to take a plea deal that requires a two year prison sentence. He says goodbye to colleagues and prepares to do his time.

But in a last minute twist, Harvey has a crisis of conscience. He provides Mike’s case with new evidence that compels the district attorney to release Mike from the plea deal.

Thanks to Harvey’s eleventh hour gambit, Mike avoids being convicted. The charges against him are dropped in the season 6 finale. He narrowly escapes serving any jail time for the fake lawyer scandal.

Mike and Harvey mend their fractured relationship. Mike also reconciles with Rachel and decides to pursue an honest career. He begins training to take the bar exam the legitimate way.

Why Did Mike Get Off?

Mike’s freedom came down to a few key factors:

  • Harvey’s help – Despite their falling out, Harvey realized Mike didn’t deserve the full two year sentence and worked tirelessly behind the scenes to gather information that would exonerate Mike.
  • Lack of victims – Although unethical, Mike’s fraud never directly harmed any of the clients he represented at Pearson Specter Litt. This made the DA hesitant to severely punish him.
  • Questionable motives – The DA acknowledged ulterior motives were likely behind the investigation into Mike. Cahill had an axe to grind against the firm. This raised doubts about Mike being unfairly targeted.
  • No prior record – As a first time offender, Mike was cut some slack. Had he been convicted previously, a harsher sentence would have been expected.

Thanks these circumstances, the district attorney opted for leniency. Mike got extremely lucky twice – first that Harvey intervened, and second that the DA allowed him to walk free instead of serving hard time.

What Were the Conditions of Mike’s Release?

While Mike avoided jail, his fraud charges weren’t simply dismissed either. Some consequences were attached to the final deal that set him free:

  • Mike had to agree to never practice law again without passing the bar exam properly. His illegal lawyer days were done.
  • Mike was forced to resign from Pearson Specter Litt immediately since he wasn’t a real lawyer. This pained Mike, but he had no choice.
  • Mike paid a hefty fine to the court for his misconduct.
  • Mike had to complete a substantial number of community service hours.
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Though the repercussions could have been much worse, Mike still paid the price for his dishonorable actions. Losing his job and reputation stung, but Mike accepted these conditions in exchange for avoiding jail.

How Did 2 Years in Prison Impact Mike’s Life?

Mike certainly caught a huge break not having to serve the two years behind bars he was sentenced to under the initial plea deal. If Mike had done that time, how might the trajectory of his life been altered?

  • Mike would have struggled readjusting to normal life after getting out. Prison can harden people. Mike may have had issues with relationships and employment.
  • Mike would have been permanently disbarred. His original plea deal included loss of his law license. Prison would have cemented this.
  • Mike’s reputation and career prospects would have suffered far greater damage and stigma. Jail time could have ruined his future.
  • Mike’s romantic relationship with Rachel may not have survived two years apart under those conditions.
  • Mike would have endured significant psychological impacts common with incarceration – loss of self-esteem, depression, anxiety, PTSD symptoms. He may have never fully recovered.

Thanks to the last minute deus ex machina provided by Harvey, Mike escaped the full wrath of the law. Prison would have forever derailed Mike’s promising trajectory.

Why Did Mike Ever Consider Taking a Plea Deal?

When Mike agrees midway through season 6 to take the two year prison sentence, it puzzled some viewers. Why did Mike willingly submit to incarceration instead of continuing to fight the charges?

In truth, Mike was motivated by several factors:

  • He felt tremendous guilt over deceiving colleagues, clients, and the court for years. Mike believed he deserved punishment.
  • The evidence was stacked against Mike for committing conspiracy to commit fraud. His chances of exoneration seemed unlikely.
  • Mike thought serving limited jail time was better than risking a maximum sentence if convicted at trial.
  • Mike assumed the plea deal would help repair his relationships with Harvey, Rachel and others hurt by his actions.

Ultimately of course, Mike didn’t end up needing to sacrifice two years of his life and future. But given the circumstances at the time, accepting imprisonment rather than an uncertain trial seemed logical to Mike.

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When Mike Ross got arrested for pretending to be a real lawyer, his future looked dire. With overwhelming evidence of fraud, Mike seemed destined for conviction and imprisonment. But thanks to loyal allies like Harvey Specter, who rescued him at the eleventh hour, Mike narrowly escaped that fate.

While Mike had to pay a price for his deception with hefty fines and community service, he dodged the extensive collateral damage jail time would have inflicted. Mike regained control of his life and relationships. And with a hard-won appreciation for ethics, Mike finally committed to earning his law degree legitimately.

For Suits fans, Mike avoiding jail prevented him from being written off the show prematurely. While messy at times, Mike’s arc provided growth while keeping him central to the ongoing drama at Pearson Specter Litt. In the end, the likable rogue stayed out of an orange jumpsuit and continued gracing our screens. Mike Ross found redemption without prison bars in his way.

FAQ About Mike Ross Going to Prison

How did Mike Ross get exposed as a fraudulent lawyer?

Mike was exposed due to blackmail and a falling out with Harvey. An investigator named Sean Cahill was also probing the firm’s shady dealings, which increased scrutiny of Mike.

What criminal charges was Mike Ross actually convicted of?

None. Though initially charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, Mike cut a plea deal. But in the end, thanks to Harvey, Mike was exonerated without doing jail time or being convicted.

Why did Rachel’s father take Mike’s case pro bono?

Robert Zane knew Mike made his daughter happy. And though Mike’s actions were illegal, Robert realized Mike had talent and deserved another chance. He took the case as a favor to Rachel.

Did Harvey Specter’s reputation suffer because of Mike’s situation?

Yes. While Harvey avoided prosecution, clients and colleagues looked at him differently. He put the firm at huge risk by covering for Mike’s illegitimacy as a lawyer.

Why did Mike consider taking the plea deal with a two year prison sentence?

Mike felt guilty and thought he deserved punishment. The evidence was stacked against him. And he assumed it would help repair his damaged relationships.

How would Mike’s life have been different if he was convicted and served time?

Jail would have forever altered Mike’s career trajectory and relationships. He would have struggled to readjust and recover psychologically.

Prison Inside Team

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