I have been a Criminal Defense Lawyer for over 20 years. In criminal television shows the defense lawyer is portrayed as the bad guy who helps the defendant get off scot free. As frustrating as it may be to watch a criminal get away with a crime, you have to understand that the attorney was only doing his sworn duty to uphold the law. The defense lawyer stands as the representative of the accused in a court of law.
The legal defender has a duty to ensure that the respondent is afforded all the protection provided by the law and constitution. Although a person is charged with an alleged crime, that person is entitled to the presumption of innocence like everyone else. This is the basic principle advocated by the criminal justice system. The defendants lawyer maintains the position that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Thereby, it will fall on the side of the prosecution to provide adequate evidence to breakdown the strategy of the defense.
The work of a trial defense lawyer starts during the arraignment hearing for the accused. The accused, together with the lawyer, comes to court for the formal reading of the criminal charges. During the proceedings, the lawyer would enter a plea of guilty or not guilty on behalf of the defendant. In Buffalo, New York, arraignment proceedings are generally held within twenty-four hours of the arrest. Depending on the negotiation skills of the defense lawyer, the judge has the option to set bail, hold the defendant in jail without bail, or set the defendant free on recognizance without bail.
The bulk of the work of the defense attorney starts after the arraignment. This is the time to conduct a thorough investigation by going through police reports, examining evidence, and talking with witnesses on behalf of the defendant. These are done for the purpose of collecting valuable information that may exonerate the respondent.
As counsel for the defense, the attorney also makes sure that the defendant is aware of what is happening and how it will relate to the outcome of the criminal case. This is important as it will help the defendant understand the circumstances of the case and how it will affect the outcome. Moreover, the trial attorney would be familiar with the difficulties of trying a case in court and provide the necessary support for the defendant who will undoubtedly be dealing with a roller coaster ride of emotions as the case ensues.
In the event of a plea bargain offer from the prosecution, the trial lawyer would negotiate on behalf of the defendant by proposing several options. For instance, lesser jail time or the possibility of seeking treatment or even attendance at a rehabilitation center that may also help reduce the chances of the respondent committing crimes again.
Misgivings about trial lawyers abound because of how they are often portrayed on television shows. As a criminal defense lawyer with over 20 years experience, I can tell you reality is far different than fiction. You have a right to defend yourself against any charge and should seek experience legal counsel should you find yourself on the other side of the law.
Kyle Calabrese has been a practicing in the Buffalo NY area since 1994. To learn more about Kyle and his experience Click Here.