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My profession as a criminal defense attorney is definitely a fun cocktail party topic of discussion. Invariably, someone, or two, three or four, says, “how can you represent someone knowing that they’re guilty?”
First of all, let me say that I have never had an ethical problem representing anyone in 24 years of criminal defense practice and I have represented all kinds of people charged with all kinds of crimes, including child murder cases, the youngest victim eighteen months old.
Second, if you are one of those people who has ethical pause about what I do, consider that those charged with crimes definitely want a criminal defense attorney who is not going to have any ethical issues about representing them.
And I don’t.
I am charged with keeping all of my clients’ secrets. Everything he or she says to me is sacrosanct. (People v. Ledesma (2006) 39 Cal. App. 4th 641, 694.)
So, even if I know certain things, that doesn’t mean that everyone else, including the prosecutor, gets to hear about it. The prosecutor has to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt independent of what I know. I don't tell on you. The police have to do everything appropriately and properly, not searching and seizing anything they want to without regard for the bounds of the law. That’s why if I get a case dismissed, I get it dismissed because the state couldn’t prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, not because of a “technicality.”
The presumption of innocence rules the day. In the United States, we are PRESUMED INNOCENT. We do not live in a police state. (People v. White (1954) 43 Cal.2d 740,745, fn. 2).
I do not need to prove that my client is innocent, or anything else, for that matter. The U.S. of A. says so.
Like other presumptions in the law, the presumption of innocence is a rebuttable one. The prosecutor can rebut the presumption of innocence by proving that someone is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by judge or jury. If there is reasonable doubt, all that remains is my client’s cloak of the presumption of innocence and he or she is not guilty.
As a criminal defense attorney, I ensure that the United States Constitution and the California Constitution are not ignored. I ensure that the prosecutor doesn’t cut corners. I ensure that the judge and jury hear ALL the evidence and listen to the WHOLE story.
Think about it.
It would be a scary place indeed if criminal defense attorneys acted as pawns of the government, straw men and straw women, puppet attorneys with no teeth, no meat and no muscle. Criminal defense attorneys need to act to ensure, assert and orate your rights.
Do you have an ethical problem with what I do? You probably won’t talk about it after you’ve been arrested and feel as if your world is falling apart. Instead, you’ll talk to me about how you are happy that you found me and you feel comfortable knowing that I am protecting you through OUR side of the law.
The side that keeps everyone honest and ethical.
That’s how I do what I do.
I believe that the fact of my sex works to my advantage in handling your case and I believe that my clients think so too. I am more compassionate, more caring, more warm and more global thinking in terms of your entire life situation, taking into consideration all factors. I find that due to this and my energy and spirit, I am able to more passionately and zealously represent you throughout your criminal case. (People v. Perez (1979) 24 Cal.3d 133, 148).
Also, there are certain cases where you should truly consider the sex of your attorney as an important factor. I have been brought in by colleagues on cases who believe that a female attorney on the team is an important element, for example, in a rape or a child abuse case.
And I’m very serious about this. You must be completely and totally comfortable and happy with the criminal defense attorney that you choose to represent you throughout your case. And if I’m not the one, don’t hire me.
There are only a few protected relationships recognized by California. Wife and husband. Priest and penitent . Psychotherapist and patient. Attorney and client. You are hiring someone that you can tell everything to. You have to be comfortable and trust them implicitly, knowing that they are doing absolutely everything possible to best help you.
Do not hire someone that you are not completely sure about. And remember, money shouldn’t be the main, driving force: It’s important, to be sure, but it shouldn’t be the only nor the prevailing factor necessarily.
And as cliché as it is, you get what you pay for. You probably received a bunch of letters from lawyers after your arrest. And some of them probably quoted ridiculously low prices. Don’t be snowed. You need someone experienced in criminal defense law, one who knows what she’s doing and one who has a great reputation as a good lawyer, a lawyer who can be trusted, and a lawyer who does everything that she can in the representation of all clients.
Come in and meet me and make sure that I’m your attorney.
A criminal defense mill is a law firm that is in the business of taking as many cases as possible, many times for a seemingly unreasonable fee and resolving the cases as quickly as possible so that the cycle can repeat: money in, case out, money in, case out.
I am not a mill. I work a case for as long as I need to, in the best interest of my client. I take pride in all of the personal, past client referrals I get because I know that I am getting that phone call for a reason.
Gives new meaning to “run of the mill,” doesn’t it?
How do I relax now that I am going through this so that I can do everything that I need to in my life?
It is time to sit in the back seat and let me drive. I know that it is very difficult for you to let go. But I also know that you need to conduct your affairs, your businesses and your family while this case is going on. Be Type ‘A’ in your affairs. But with your case, let me show you my ‘A’. You ride in the back. I tell my clients to give me 95% of the stress of the case because I can take it. You have enough stress as it is.
You, as the client, are not objective: I am. This happened to you. I can look at the whole picture with a bird’s eye view, seeing it globally and determining what to do based upon everything and based upon my knowledge and experience in criminal law.
I am good at keeping you abreast of what is happening in your case. And you can rest assured that you have hired an attorney that you are comfortable and happy with and who will, at every step, protect your interests and only your interests.
Should you feel that your case is interfering with your life, if you are overly-stressed and anxious to the point where you are not experiencing life as you normally do, you feel as if you are just going through the motions, or if you are not feeling any joy, think about calling your physician to assist you through this difficult time.