In most cases, the person who is arrested is going to speak long and hard with his lawyer. By that, I do not mean a short little interview; a good lawyer is going to spend several hours discussing a case with his client, so he knows every little bit about the case. Most times, you would have a pretty good idea at that point whether you have a case that may wind up being tried. Most cases do not go to trial and wind up being disposed of by plea bargaining. That is not a dirty word. Probably ninety-five percent of cases end up being plea bargained. Nevertheless, the more an attorney knows about the case; the more he can poke holes in the DA’s case. The more holes there are in the DA’s case the more likely it is that you can negotiate a very favorable outcome. I want to know everything I possibly can about the case because that is going to help me even if I know that the case is never going to go to trial.
What happens then is the attorney spends a great deal of time speaking with and negotiating with the district attorney who is assigned to the case. Frequently it is helpful to speak with the DA’s supervisor and even his bureau chief because many times a disposition can be reached that is not available through the assigned DA. It is important that you know who the various players are and who to speak with. The vast majority of cases never reach a trial stage. They are negotiated while in the criminal court or sometimes even in the Supreme Court. All of that takes place in the background and the more the attorney is prepared, the more he knows about the case, the better an agreement is likely to be worked out.
Of course every case is different. It goes without saying that dispositions are going to vary greatly depending on the case, the charges, the facts of the case, the defendant’s background. Frankly, the quality of the lawyer. These things all play a part and it is impossible to know in advance what is going to happen in a particular case.
What Are The Typical Outcomes That You Are Able To Get For Your Clients?
In many cases, there are policy issues within the district attorney’s office that dictate what kind of a plea offer they are willing to make in a particular case. My job is to show the district attorney why this case may be different than the typical case that he is used to under these circumstances. Also what I find very effective is when I speak to a district attorney and there is an offer of the jail sentence that is the typical offer, it is no good for me to simply walk in and say, “Don’t give him a jail sentence in this case”. Very often what I will be doing is going in and saying, “Look, I know that this case usually requires a jail sentence, but how about this as an alternative”.
That might be doing community service; a program of some sort or some combination and the whole point is designed to keep the defendant out of jail. In many cases, these programs are aimed at keeping the client from having a criminal record that is going to stay with him for his entire life. Many times, we are able to get what is called a conditional plea where the defendant, for instance, may plead guilty to both a criminal charge and a non-criminal charge (In other words, one that does not give him a criminal record). Between the time the plea was taken and the time of sentence, he has to do certain things such as complete a certain type of program or complete a certain amount of community service projects. If he does all these things, then the criminal charge is dismissed and he is left with a non-criminal disposition. The key is trying to give the district attorney an alternative that is reasonable, something that he can live with rather than simply saying “Don’t send my guy to jail, don’t give him a criminal record.” The district attorney’s answer is always “why not?” You must have a good reason for that and a good alternative for it. It can be very effective and make a big difference in the outcome of a criminal case.
What Sets Your Firm Apart In Handling Criminal Defense Cases?
They are the basic obvious things; how knowledgeable is the attorney, how far is he willing to fight for his client, how experienced is he both in the type of case that you have and, just as importantly, in dealing with the particular DAs and judges that are going to be involved in his case. These are the basic things. One of the things that I hope sets me apart from many criminal lawyers, is that I spend the time to let the client know everything that is happening. It is very difficult for somebody to simply say “Okay, you’re the attorney. Now, go out and do your best job for me”.
Of course I am going to do that, but I am also going to keep him apprised of everything we are doing along the way. I also want my clients input as well. A lot of lawyers are not so good at doing that. I am very good at it. A lot of lawyers are not so good at answering calls and they get tired of it. Most times, the call is not going to accomplish anything, but I find that it is extremely important to get back to clients when they call you and let them know everything that you are doing for them.
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