Criminal Defense

Developing a Defense for your Criminal Case
A criminal defense strategy will emerge as I find out more about what the prosecutor is planning to do. Because each criminal prosecution is different, each strategy is unique to that particular situation. For example, if a prosecutor intends to offer evidence placing you at the scene of the crime, I will seek to create reasonable doubt that the prosecution's evidence is reliable through defense witnesses or other evidence. In addition, how you act and respond to questions from the prosecutor will change our criminal defense strategy.

In the course of your case, I will not offer false evidence that would tend to show innocence. If you are open and honest with me we will have a better chance of putting up a great defense. Keep in mind that the truth that you see is not always the truth that the prosecution sees. Indeed, there can be multiple versions of the truth existing during a criminal prosecution. For example, if you are on trial for murder, there could be several storylines. In one storyline, you may have killed the victim in cold blood as a premeditated crime. In another storyline, you may have killed the victim in self-defense after you were assaulted. The best criminal defense strategy comes when you and I present a story based in truth and shows you in the best light possible. Even if you are guilty of the crime charged, depicting a story in a better light could lead to a plea bargain or even being found guilty of a lesser charge.

Both the prosecutor and I will use the same foundation of factual events, but I will focus on those facts that put your actions in the best light. Remember, the prosecution has to prove that you are guilty; you DO NOT have to prove your innocence. Our end story will be:

  • Based in a truthful foundation of evidence. For example, if your car was used as a getaway car, I may seek to show that the car was stolen the morning of the crime.
  • Designed to elicit sympathy from the judge or the jury. For example, I may seek to show you tried to withdraw from a crime before it was committed and reported the potential crime to the police to help prevent the crime from occurring.
  • Organized to explain and prove why your version of the events is the true version of events. For example, if you claim to not have been at the crime scene when the crime occurred, our story must convince the judge or the jury that you were not there.
It is important for your defense that your story is accurate, based in truth, and tailored to your goal. We must work together carefully before presenting this story in court to make sure that no part of it may be challenged by the facts.

Denials and Admissions of Guilt
It is rare for two defendants to come up with the exact same version of the events. A defendant's story will fall into one of three categories:

  • A confession story. Here the defendant admits to committing a crime during our consultation. Any admission is protected by the attorney-client privilege and regardless of your guilt you are entitled to defend yourself from all charges using competent legal representation.
  • A complete denial story. Here the defendant denies all of the charges that the prosecution has made. Complete denial stories often involve an alibi.
  • An admit and explain story. Here the defendant admits to committing the crime but maintains that he had some type of legal justification for the crime, such as self-defense.
Creating a Criminal Defense Strategy
After you tell me your story, we will collaborate with each other to come up with a strategy that will work best in court. Generally speaking, this strategy will be based upon your initial story, but will probably not be exactly the same. Coming up with a defense strategy is not as simple as telling the truth in a way that shows your innocence or lessened culpability. Instead, I must often weigh the credibility of various witnesses, consider the admissibility of evidence on both sides, and consider other legal factors. All of these considerations will go into making a "theory of the case" that will be based upon your story and other provable facts.

The following example shows how a great criminal defense strategy is created. Suppose that a criminal defendant has been charged with burglary. The defendant comes to my office and tells his story and admits to confessing to the crime after being arrested. The man was identified by an eyewitness shortly after the burglary took place. The witness is not certain of the identification, but is "pretty sure." The defendant tells me that, although he was present at the scene of the crime, he did not take part in its execution. Instead, he merely went along so that his friends would not think less of him. After the defendant was arrested, the police did not inform him of his right to be silent or his right to have an attorney present when he was questioned.

In the three categories above, this story would best be classified as a confession story because the defendant knew about the crime and was present while it was committed. However, my strategy would be based upon a theory that the police used a weak eyewitness's account to implicate the defendant then obtained a confession under duress and in violation of the law. This is a theory that is based in truth and shows the defendant in a better light.

Putting this theory forward in court could be very beneficial to the defendant. I would probably file a pretrial motion asking for the confession to the police to be omitted from the record because the failure of the police to read the defendant his Miranda warnings amounted to an unconstitutional interrogation. In addition, I would also try to question the eyewitness and show that their identification was so uncertain that it did not establish the perpetrator's identity "beyond a reasonable doubt." Depending upon the strength of the arguments, our goal could be a verdict of not-guilty or a plea bargain to a lesser charge.

I am a zealous advocate for my clients and will provide coaching, as necessary, to put forward the best defense theory possible. To this end I may:

  • Use mock-interviews in order to help you commit our theory to memory,
  • Bring you to the crime scene to help you accurately recreate your account of events, and
  • Ask you to write down the events surrounding the charges from your own point of view.
Additionally, I will analyze the prosecution's case to make sure that you include important factual information in your testimony. For example, if a key part of the prosecution's case is that you were in a certain place at a certain time; you should tell a truthful version of events that does not place you at that place at that time.

I will inform you of the elements of the prosecution's case so that you know what kind of evidence they need to prove your guilt. For example, if you were charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery, I would advise:

"You are being charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery. What this means is that you are being charged with planning with at least one other person to commit armed robbery and have taken a step towards achieving this goal. I know that the state plans on showing that you purchased a gun after speaking with your alleged co-conspirators. The state claims that you planned the crime with your co-conspirators and that your later purchase of the gun was a step in furtherance of the crime.

Because you have this information, you are in a better position to explain gun purchase. For example, you may have purchased the gun to defend yourself from your co-conspirators who threatened you with bodily harm if you refused to participate in the armed robbery. If this story is true, then the purchase of the gun was not in furtherance of the crime and you would not be guilty of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

The Truth Could Set You Free (In a shorter amount of time)
You should tell me the complete truth because doing so could lead to a lesser charge. For example, if you are charged with armed robbery and admit to robbing the store, but not with any weapon, this could reduce the charge to robbery, a much less serious crime in terms of potential jail time.

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