Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) shoots his unfaithful wife, confesses to the police - orally and in writing - but then pleads not guilty and opts to defend himself in court. The young DA assigned to the case, William Beachum (Ryan Gosling), has had a successful career with a 97% conviction rate. Beachum however is actually on his way to a lucrative position in a big private law firm, but his desire to win keeps him on the case. But during the trial, it is discovered that the arresting officer was actually Mrs. Crawford's lover, hence Ted Crawford's confessional is dismissed due to the fact he may have been "under pressure" to sign it by the arresting officer. Also Mr. Crawford's gun that was collected from the crime scene has apparently never been fired, despite the fact that 4 bullets are missing from his gun case. With no real evidence, Willy now finds himself possibly losing his first case and losing everything that he has coming to him unless he can discover something that can put Mr. Crawford away for murder and win the case.