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Down-and-out Victor Shanley, a former district attorney, is arrested during a raid of a skid row dive. He is arraigned in the night court where his former wife, Carol O'Neil, is a court reporter. After he gives a long speech against people who support corruption in government, Vic passes out. Carol takes him home and cleans him up. She tells him he drinks because he is a coward who is afraid to face defeat. Vic responds that since being on the side of right does not pay, he plans to work for criminal boss Al Kruger and become a prosperous criminal attorney. Sobered up, Vic successfully defends Bob Terrill, a young man who became an auto thief for Kruger because of poverty. Vic then tricks the star witness in a murder trial and gains an acquittal. In spite of his continuing success, he has not lost all interest in doing good deeds. He offers to pay Bob's tuition so that he can study aeronautical engineering and end his life as a thief. Although Vic cautions him not to tell anyone of his plans, Bob tells Kruger, who arranges for Bob to be killed. When Carol learns of Bob's death, she tells Vic he is responsible. Believing that she is correct, Vic quits his job. When Kruger's stolen car ring is raided, Vic is made special prosecutor. He bluffs the criminals by claiming that Bob kept a record of the numbers of the cars he painted. When it appears that Vic is winning in court, the gangsters pull their guns and are killed by the police. Now that he has "gone straight," Vic asks Carol to come back and she agrees.