A private criminal law defense attorney can help clients win their cases or, at the least, achieve an outcome with more lenient consequences than would happen otherwise. These lawyers are skilled at negotiating favorable plea bargains when this would be the best option. Some defendants who qualify for the services of a public defender still do whatever it takes to pay a private lawyer who has more time to spend on the case and more abundant resources.
The lawyer who is on the other side of the case is a prosecuting attorney, called a district attorney or assistant district attorney in most jurisdictions. This is a government position. Some prosecuting attorneys eventually decide to become criminal defense lawyers, for various reasons. It is much less common for a defense lawyer to become a prosecutor, as they generally prefer working in private practice.
Success Rates and Viewpoints
The individual seeking an attorney will want to take steps to make sure this lawyer is successful at defending clients and will be a good fit personality-wise. During the initial consultation, it sometimes becomes clear that these two persons will not be able to work together very well. This isn’t necessarily a matter of not liking each other, but may have more to do with communication styles and opposing views of how the case should be approached.
An excellent defense attorney does not simply accept what is set forth in the police report. Interviews and investigations are conducted, including interviews of witnesses and gathering of other evidence. The prosecutor must deliver information when asked by the defense attorney, a legal process known as discovery. All of these strategies help the lawyer with efforts to have the case dismissed, or to convince the prosecution to drop or reduce the charges. It helps the lawyer determine whether a plea bargain is advisable.
The Main Focus
An excellent defense lawyer does not focus on whether or not the defendant is guilty or not guilty. Instead, legal representation is provided as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The focus is on whether or not the prosecution has enough evidence to convince a jury that the defendant is guilty, beyond any reasonable doubt.