Skilled Defense

Aggressive and Skilled Criminal Defense

defense attorney servicesMany criminal defense attorneys love to tell you they will “fight” for you, but a skilled defense attorney knows that knowing how and when to fight is far more important than just “fighting.” To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, sometimes it’s just as important to “walk softly and carry a big stick.”

The first priority for a criminal defense attorney should always be to determine whether the State can prove its case, and whether the evidence against the client was obtained in a manner that’s consistent with his Constitutional rights. It’s seldom black and white; whether a case is strong or weak, whether a search is valid, are matters of opinion, and it’s important to choose an attorney who knows the difference.

When a client has a legitimate defense, you want an attorney who is not afraid to fight. Trying a case, in particular in front of a jury, combines the elements of public speaking, which many people find intimidating in and of itself, with elements of acting…essentially you are “on stage” the entire time you are in front of a jury, with every movement, every eye-roll, every lift of the pen being scrutinized by the eyes of six or twelve strangers. Add to that the necessity of being on your toes, and listening to every single word that comes out of a witness’s mouth, or even anticipating the words that are about to come of a witnesses’ mouth, and being prepared to make an objection, and be able to cite a specific rule or case to support that objection…well, a jury trial, even for a well-seasoned trial attorney, is an extremely stressful experience.

The simple fact is that most attorneys simply do not have the stomach for the amount of work, and stress, involved with trying a case to a jury; thus their relative infrequency. Even in the field of criminal law, an area of law where jury trials are the most prevalent, there are attorneys who never try a case to a jury, or rarely file a motion to exclude evidence, and the unfortunate reality is those defendants may receive a harsher penalty, or even a conviction that could be avoided entirely if their case was in the hands of a more skilled, aggressive, attorney.

However, as opposed to how it is often portrayed on T.V., the bulk of most defense attorney’s work does not involve “getting people off” of their charges. In many cases, after an evaluation of the evidence, it is apparent to both the attorney and the client that the client is guilty, and there is no realistic defense. In those cases, the attorney plays the role of counselor or advisor, explaining to the client the repercussions and penalties for their behavior, explaining to them how the criminal process works, presenting the client’s particular situation to the prosecutor, and negotiating the best possible disposition. Sometimes it also involves recommending a particular course of counseling or treatment to the client, to help the client address the issues that put them in front of your desk in the first place, and to try to make sure they don’t come back. In those cases, pursuing meritless defenses and filing motions with little to no chance of success – “fighting” for the sake of fighting – usually results in a bad result for the client.

Sometimes, a case may be so serious, and the consequences so severe, that a guilty plea is not an option, and the pursuit of a dismissal or “not guilty” after trial is the only option. Most cases follow both paths – an evaluation of the merits of a case along with minimizing a client’s risk exposure by negotiating the best possible disposition. But even in the case of a plea negotiation, the best possible outcome is possible only if the threat of a trial is a realistic threat, made by an attorney who has demonstrated the skill and willingness to back it up, who can “walk softly and carry a big stick.”

© 2013 Brian J. Johnson

Contact Information

Brian J. Johnson Attorney at Law

47 W. Marion Street
Danville, IN 46122

Phone: 317-718-7000

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