A defense attorney is a lawyer specializing in advocating for the accused to protect their client’s best interests. They also ensure the law functions as it should. In civil cases, this means representing a business, individual, or organization accused of some type of harm or wrongful act. These disputes may cover a wide range of topics. Family law cases such as disputes over adoption, cases involving Child Protective Services, custody battles, and divorce are all civil suits in which a client may be able to be represented in a civil suit.
Other types of cases may involve money for damages, lost or stolen property, breach of contract, and many others. In a criminal case, a defense attorney represents a business, individual, or organization that has been charged with a crime and may be facing hefty fines, jail time, or other more serious repercussions. These cases may involve charges for DUI, drug-related charges, reckless driving, assault, theft, and many others.
Anyone who enjoys watching courtroom dramas likes to think they know enough about criminal law to represent themselves in court. However, tv shows rarely accurately depict just how much time and effort goes into prepping for a court case. Criminal is aggressive and adversarial by nature, every detail of your life will be put under a microscope. It is your attorney’s job to have a counter-argument ready for anything the prosecution may try to establish guilt.
A defense attorney’s job begins long before they ever step foot in a courtroom. As soon as they agree to take a case they are already playing catch-up. The prosecutor has been collecting, testing, and evaluating evidence provided by the police and investigators. They have interviewed countless witnesses and experts who have agreed to testify against you. These preparations being weeks, months, sometimes even years in advance. The prosecution and judge already understand the facts of your case. Each piece paints a picture of what happened and how they allegedly connect you the events. To say that the prosecutor has a headstart is a gross understatement. You can bet they will make the most of that time. So what does a good defense attorney do when is seems the cards are already stacked against them?
As soon as they agree to take a case, a good defense attorney wastes no time conducting their own investigation. Though they are supposed to remain impartial, everyone involved in the case is still human. This means they’re still prone to developing their own opinions about what happened and who is responsible. This can impact what evidence is collected and how.
As your attorney reviews the evidence they’ll look for errors regarding evidence collection. They’ll also ensure it meets the requirements to be admissible in court. They will look for evidence that may contradict police reports or the testimony of the prosecutions key witnesses. They’ll look for any new information that may prove your innocence or at least cast doubt on your involvement in the case. They may have evidence retested by an independent lab to ensure the results were correct. Any inconsistencies in this data could result in key evidence being inadmissible or bring into question the integrity of the investigation. In some instances, an attorney will hire their own private investigators to ensure that they have explored every possible avenue for dismantling the case against you.
A good defense attorney is ready to negotiate. A good defense attorney knows that even with the best defense, few cases can be considered a sure thing. If the evidence against you is overwhelming and your odds of winning at trial are low, and the maximum sentence possible for the charges against you are dire, a good defense attorney recognizes that sometimes striking a deal may be your best bet. Your attorney will evaluate what the prosecution wants to determine what sort of deal they may be able to cut.
Generally, the prosecution’s two main desires are justice for the victims and consequences for the accused. In exchange for a guilty plea, your defense attorney will negotiate for reduced or lesser charges or for one or more charges to be dropped. Your attorney will also be able to negotiate for a reduced sentence or for a specific outcome of the sentencing to appease the prosecution’s need for justice and consequences. Most prosecutors can be talked down on charges and sentencing so long as those two desires are met, so it never hurts to ask!
While it is the attorney’s responsibility to do what is in the best interest of their client, the final decision to accept a plea bargain will always remain in the hands of the accused. Your attorney can give their professional legal opinion and advise you on what they would recommend, but ultimately they cannot accept the terms without the defendant’s approval.
A good defense attorney is ready to mount a technical defense. But what does that mean? If you’ve watched law dramas or followed criminal cases in the news, you have likely seen cases get thrown out on ‘technicalities’. This means that at some point in the investigation a report was improperly filled, the chain of evidence was broken, there was some form of misconduct on behalf of investigators, the defendant was treated improperly, or any number o other missteps were committed in the course of the investigation which renders key pieces of testimony or evidence inadmissible. A good defense attorney is familiar with all proper investigative procedures as well as the ins and outs of criminal law. Your attorney has experience in leveraging these flaws to cast doubt on the integrity of the proceedings.
A good defense attorney has to be able to win if your case goes to trial. Defense attorneys with a strong track record can win cases that otherwise seem like a lost cause based largely on reputation alone. That reputation can improve the chances of a more favorable plea deal that might otherwise not have been considered by the prosecution.
If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to contact a qualified defense attorney as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of Bell & White, we promise to aggressively represent you to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. We take great pride in working closely with individuals and their families. Our goal is to ensure everyone aware of the status of their case during the criminal proceedings.