I’m pretty sure that, when speaking, I always use pled as the past form of plead in the phrase above. (In writing, the red wigglies cow me into using pleaded.)
This is odd because it is not considered a standard form in Australia, my homeland. OED mentions it as a N.Am and Scottish variant. “Pled guilty” just sounds like correct English to me.
Raw Googlestats supports the idea that the form is quite rare in Australia, with site:au “pled guilty” getting about 1% as many hits as site:au “pleaded guilty”. Compare that to the unrestricted search, in which “pled guilty” gets about 12% as many hits as “pleaded guilty”.
A few of these hits are in pieces discussing the pled/pleaded dichotomy, but there are also plenty from justice.gov, and from North American news sites.
The strange thing is, while I would say “pled guilty” or “pled innocent”, I would not use pled in most other contexts. “He pleaded with me to turn down the volume” sounds right to me, and “He pled with me” sounds wrong.
A search on “he pled with me” again gives about 13% as many hits as “he pleaded with me”, so about the same ratio as with “pled guilty/pleaded guilty”.
If I do this test with site:au, I get about 40 hits with pleaded and 1 hit for pled, but this is for a single direct quote from Alan Alda, so probably the n is too low to draw any conclusions.
What say you? Do any of you say pled? Would you be more likely to say pled in “pled guilty” than in “he pled with me”?