If you’ve been accused of a crime, having an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner is crucial for mounting an aggressive legal defense. Skilled criminal lawyers don’t leave building a defense strategy to chance. They deliberately craft a step-by-step game plan focused on achieving the best possible outcome for their client.
So what goes into devising a targeted strategy? Let’s examine the key factors criminal justice attorneys consider when customizing a defense for each unique case and situation.
Thoroughly Reviewing the Charges
The starting point for any defense is carefully examining the specific criminal charges being faced. The lawyer studies the formal accusation, police reports, investigator statements, and all other available information relevant to the charges. This helps identify potential procedural mistakes, inconsistencies, specious logic, and other opportunities to mount an effective defense.
From there, experienced criminal attorneys research the precise statutes pertaining to the charges. They determine if those laws have exceptions or “loopholes” that could be used to get certain charges dismissed or reduced. Knowledge of the letter of the law empowers smart defense strategies.
Assessing the Prosecution’s Case
Preparing for the other side is key. Your defense lawyer will use the discovery process to find out exactly what evidence the prosecution plans to present and which witnesses they intend to call.
This enables strategic decisions based on the apparent strengths and weaknesses of the district attorney’s case against you. If the case hinges on questionable eyewitness testimony, for example, discrediting those witnesses becomes a higher priority.
Developing Case Theories
Now armed with a complete understanding of the charges and the D.A.’s game plan, your attorney can develop plausible explanations and “theories of the case” that are most advantageous for your defense.
Maybe they highlight flaws that create reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s version of events. Or present alternative sequences more consistent with your innocence. Often, multiple working theories are pursued to see which resonate strongest under scrutiny.
Asserting Your Constitutional Rights
Knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers keep a sharp eye out for potential constitutional violations related to the charges. Was evidence obtained through an illegal search or seizure? Were your Miranda rights violated during questioning?
Dogged attorneys prepare rock-solid arguments asserting your 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. If critical missteps are identified, petitioning to have illegally obtained evidence barred can instantly weaken the prosecution’s case against you.
Researching Prior Similar Cases
Precedent matters, so your attorney will analyze prior cases comparable to yours that were tried in the same courthouse. How did the judge rule on pre-trial motions and objections? Were certain pieces of evidence allowed or barred? How did former juries respond to certain types of testimony?
This background equips your defense team to craft arguments and assert defenses that resonate with the court and potential jurors. It also highlights potential pitfalls to avoid based on what has (and hasn’t) worked in the past.
Leveraging Legal Defenses
Certain legal defenses with Latin names like “ignorantia juris non excusat” (ignorance of the law excuses not) serve as complete defenses against criminal charges if applied successfully. Others like “diminished capacity” may not excuse the crime but can reduce charges and penalties.
Your attorney will explore whether factual peculiarities of your case may qualify you for any defenses that make convictions harder to obtain or mitigate sentences imposed after a guilty verdict.
Negotiating Plea Agreements
Roughly 90% of criminal cases end with a guilty plea rather than going to trial. Leveraging their knowledge of your case and potential outcomes, your lawyer can negotiate with the district attorney to potentially get charges dropped or reduced as part of a beneficial plea deal for you.
Sometimes, even defendants with strong cases are better off avoiding the risk of trial in favor of a more certain (and often much lighter) outcome via a mutually acceptable plea bargain. Your attorney will advise you based on their objective case assessment.
Selecting Trial Strategies
If your attorney recommends rejecting any plea deals and taking your case to trial, they’ll have already developed a comprehensive plan of attack for the courtroom. This could involve targeted jury selection to favor skeptics, intensely cross-examining contradictory witnesses, presenting persuasive expert testimony, and controlling the case narrative from start to finish.
Every decision, from which jurors to strike to which exhibits to introduce, will tie back to the overarching trial strategy formed through meticulous preparation by your defense team.
Advising You at Each Stage
Perhaps most importantly, seasoned lawyers remember that active listening and clear communication are imperative when advising clients. They’ll digest your feedback, explain legal implications in plain terms, and collaborate with you to map out defense strategies aligned with your priorities.
With an open flow of information and advice, you’re equipped to make smart choices at every critical stage of the case. Your attorney develops legal tactics designed to protect your best interests and obtain the most favorable outcome possible under the circumstances.
The right criminal defense attorney doesn’t respond to the prosecution’s moves in ad hoc fashion. They deliberately craft and execute defense strategies refined through years of specialized training and experience. With a smart game plan and an unwavering commitment to their clients, Benjamin Durham Law Firm criminal lawyers tilt the scales of justice in favor of the accused.