While the media frequently highlights the importance of protecting minority groups, it still seems acceptable in our culture to denigrate criminal defence attorneys. Apparently, although individuals of particular religions, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities or political views are perceived as worthy of protection, criminal defence lawyers are still fair game, targeted in jokes and cartoons, on talk shows and at private and public gatherings. Let’s set the record straight.
The Mythology of Criminal Defense Lawyers
The following myths are fairly persuasive which is bad on at least two fronts: (1) criminal defence lawyers suffer unfairly tarnished reputations and do not receive the respect they deserve; and (2) accused and arrested individuals feel that they are being forced to deal with unsavoury characters they should not trust when they must consult with criminal defence attorneys. The following four myths about criminal defence lawyers lay the foundation for many other misconceptions.
- Criminal Defense Lawyers Don’t Care About the Guilt or Innocence of Their Clients
Criminal defence attorneys, unlike other members of the judicial system, serve their clients’ interest. Because they represent those accused of crimes, they review the government’s evidence, gather their own evidence if needed, determine its admissibility and, after a thorough investigation of the facts, determine – based on their experience – whether the government can prove their client committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If the government cannot, the lawyer fights with all their power and knowledge to bring that reasonable doubt to the attention of the judge or jury.
It’s not the defence lawyers’ job to determine guilt or innocence. Do we often have a feeling one way or the other, probably? However, any experienced defence attorney has at some point been wrong despite a strong feeling one way or the other. So you learn to question that initial instinct and not let it affect your job – which is doing everything possible to meet or exceed your client’s goals.
What also often happens is the accused being overcharged by the government. In those instances, guilt may not be in question, but guilt as to a different, often less serious charge. Don’t forget, the criminal defence lawyers’ job is to defend their clients as ardently as they can, whatever their own personal opinion of the case. Our justice system is designed to let only the judge or jury make the final decision.
- Criminal Defense Attorneys Are Liars Talented criminal defence attorneys learn to phrase facts persuasively enough to sow doubt in the minds of judge or jury. The truth has a way of rising to the surface, however, so lying is not only unethical but unlikely to be a successful tactic. Good criminal defence attorneys are well-schooled in raising questions. Through carefully worded suggestions or propositions regarding the conditions of the arrest, the validity and purity of the evidence presented, and the possible misinterpretation of motive or need, highly skilled criminal defence attorneys have the verbal acuity to navigate the courtroom without having to resort to lying. Everyone should remember that in the United State, any accused is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law – not the other way around.
- Criminal Defense Lawyers Hide Evidence or Use Manufactured Evidence Those who believe that criminal defence attorneys routinely make up actions or verbiage to win their clients’ freedom are usually guilty of watching too many courtroom dramas. The truth is that criminal defence attorneys work exceptionally hard, examining all available data with a metaphoric microscope to find details that will aid in a positive interpretation of their clients’ actions. They have nothing to win and everything to lose by introducing false evidence that could ruin their reputation and result in disbarment and/or a prison sentence.
- Criminal Defense Lawyers Are Only Focused on Making Money There is a pervasive myth in our culture that criminal defence lawyers work at this painstaking, emotionally wearing job only because they are looking for financial reward. For this reason, a great many individuals believe that you need not seek out a criminal defence attorney if you find yourself in trouble with the law — that you might as well hire a general practice attorney or a public defender. The latter, after all, presents an advantage to you because he or she charges no fee.
Nevertheless, when your life is on the line — reputation, financial stability, freedom — you want to choose the attorney with the very best chance of winning your case. No matter how competent a general practice attorney may be, he or she only works part-time on criminal defence. Like other specialists, criminal defence lawyers become more proficient by practising exclusively in their area of specialization.
This is why engaging the services of someone who is laser-focused on criminal defence is going to be savvier, as well as more experienced in the discipline than someone who spends a large percentage of his/her time on civil litigation, bankruptcy law, or estate planning. By working at criminal defence law exclusively, a criminal defence attorney will have more finely honed skills in this area than a lawyer who plays the field.
Give yourself the Best Chance of a Successful Outcome – Make Sure to Use a Sharp Criminal Defense Attorney
It is important to remember that when your career, your freedom, and your life as you know it hangs in the balance, there is no substitute for having an accomplished criminal defence attorney at your side. You don’t want to depend on someone who occasionally works on criminal defence or someone who is fresh out of law school. As far as paying for the best criminal representation possible, there is always a way to arrange a payment plan or financing. Don’t short-change yourself in one of the most significant decisions you will ever make. The stakes are too high to settle for the store brand.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Antonio F. Valiente
After his graduation from American University’s Washington College of Law, Miami attorney Antonio F. Valiente, Esq. began his legal career at the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office. There, he gained valuable insight and extensive experience over the course of six+ years. Between his time at the Public Defender’s Office & since founding Valiente Law, he’s tried close to 50 felony jury trials as lead counsel, dozens of misdemeanor jury trials, taken over one thousand depositions, & dozens of juvenile trials/adjudicatory hearings. Mr. Valiente’s experience encompasses everything from minor traffic-related misdemeanors to serious first-degree murder charges. Since 2015, Mr. Valiente has expanded his practice to handle all types of family law matters – from divorce and child custody cases to paternity and same-sex adoptions. Having the opportunity to work with & learn from some of the best and most experienced family law attorneys in the State, Mr. Valiente now provides his family law clients with the same excellent representation he is known for providing his client’s accused of state & federal criminal offenses.