Ever since I announced to my friends and family that I was going to be a Criminal Defense Attorney there has been one nagging question, “How can you sleep at night defending criminals?” In this short article, I would like to answer that question and at the same time possibly give you some insight on how you might select an attorney, if you ever need one.
First, I sleep just fine! When I see a client who has been arrested and charged with a crime, I don’t see a criminal. What I see is someone’s son or daughter, mother or father, or brother or sister. My client has people that care about them and their loss of liberty (freedom) will cause those people great pain. So, I treat my clients like they are family. I take care of them like they are my own brother or sister. That means giving them the respect they deserve, telling them the truth, and not sugarcoating the risks and challenges they will face through the difficult legal process. It means helping them weigh the risks and rewards of each decision. Not every case ends with a not guilty or dismissal, but I can sleep at night knowing that I did my very best to give my client the opportunity to stay out of jail, prison, and possibly stay in-country.
One of the things people who criticize criminal defense attorneys don’t seem to understand is that in many ways we are just Constitutional Lawyers. We protect the 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments. We keep the police from stopping and searching people without probable cause or at least reasonable suspicion. We prevent the prosecutor from using our client’s coerced (involuntary) statements against them. And, we make sure that the police and prosecutor can’t manipulate our client into making decisions that could take their freedom. I think everyone can agree that there are dangerous people out on the streets, but the minute we give the police and the prosecutors free rein to ignore the Constitution, we open ourselves up to a type of tyranny and corruption that destroys communities and nations.
In closing, what should you look for in a Criminal Defense Attorney? (1) Look for passion and enthusiasm to fight for your rights. (2) Money is important, but it shouldn’t be the only thing on your attorney’s mind. (3) Look for someone who treats you with respect and can communicate with you and your family. (4) Finally, look for someone who has the respect of both prosecutors and the judges.