Anyone who has been accused of a crime needs a strong advocate. A defense attorney is someone the accused can trust and rely upon. Here are five things that a criminal defendant should expect from a good defense attorney.
Client surveys show that the failure to return phone calls or emails is the number one complaint that clients have about their lawyers. Good lawyers are busy lawyers — you wouldn’t want to hire a lawyer who is sitting around with nothing to do — but the best lawyers always make time for their clients.
If a lawyer is in court all day, it may not be possible to return a call immediately. But it is possible to have an assistant pass along an answer to a client’s question or to schedule a mutually convenient time to have a conversation. In most cases, it should be possible for the lawyer to respond to a client’s inquiries, by telephone or email, within a couple of days.
A Blueprint for Handling the Case
A good criminal defense lawyer begins by conducting an investigation. It is often best for an accused to review the evidence with the lawyer before attempting to explain why the prosecution is mistaken about guilt.
Once the accused and his or her lawyer are on the same page about the facts, a good lawyer will explain the available defenses, outlining the strengths and weaknesses of each potential defense. The lawyer will then devise a strategy that, in the lawyer’s judgment, represents the best chance of obtaining a favorable outcome. Clients should be kept informed about the lawyer’s thought process and about any new facts that change the lawyer’s strategy.
A Thorough Knowledge of the Law
Legislatures enact statutes defining crimes. Yet criminal law is also defined by court decisions that interpret those statutes and that analyze potential violations of constitutional rights by police officers and prosecutors.
Because Iowa and federal courts are quite active, the law changes every day. Some of those changes are small and others are monumental. Most lawyers are aware of big changes, but good lawyers keep track of every change that might benefit a client.
Strong Negotiation Skills
Most criminal cases are resolved through negotiation. That process is often known as “plea bargaining” but it is really a matter of persuading the prosecutor to take a reasonable view of the facts.
Prosecutors base decisions on police reports until they hear a defendant’s side of the story. A defense lawyer’s job is to tell that story in a way that makes the prosecutor understand that a jury might find the defendant not guilty, or that the facts are not as egregious as they seem.
Skillful negotiations sometimes cause charges to be dropped or reduced. Negotiations may also limit the potential punishment that the accused will face. A good defense lawyer is a good negotiator.
Only good fortune stands between a person accused of a crime and the lawyer who defends the accused. Good criminal defense lawyers are keenly aware that, innocent or guilty, a person who has been accused of a crime is facing a world of pain.
Good criminal defense attorneys care about their clients. They want to make sure their clients are not steamrolled by overzealous prosecutors and police officers. Assuring that clients are seen as human beings and not as generic villains is an important goal of a caring defense attorney.
Whether you are a first-time offender or you have a prior conviction, we can help you minimize the penalties you may face if convicted.
Contact the Law Office of Raphael M. Scheetz to schedule an initial consultation regarding your case.
Read this blog post about changing a criminal defense lawyer if you are unhappy with the one representing you.