In the same way that prosecutors develop strategies for winning cases, defense attorney create strategies to defend their clients. Generally speaking, criminal defense strategies grow as the defense learns more about the prosecutions plan of attack. Each case is unique, so each defense strategy must be unique as well. For instance, if a prosecutor demonstrates a story that incriminates the defendant at the scene of the crime, it would be prudent for the defense attorney to ask questions that demonstrate a different scenario – the defendant was never at the scene of the crime, etc. In reality, there are many different true stories that can be extrapolated from the same body of factual evidence.
Prosecution and defense attorneys can use the same factual evidence to create two completely different stories with different outcomes. Because of this, one good defense strategy is simply telling the truth. When developing a story of events, the defendant’s claims must be grounded in truthful, factual, evidence. Truth claims can be seen similarly to a map. One map may accurately depict the geographic terrain of a particular area, while another map demonstrates the demographics of the same physical space. While both maps are based on the same evidence, they look entirely different. Similarly, if the prosecution develops a story from factual evidence that incriminates the defendant, the defense attorney will attempt to construct a counter-story from the same facts that demonstrates the defendant’s innocence.
Defense stories, as told by the defendant, fall into three categories: “confession” stories, “complete denial” stories, and “admit and explain” stories. Each of these three types of stories either admit guild or deny guild. When the defendant tells a confession story, they confess their crime to the attorney. In a complete denial story, the defendant denies all of the charges brought against them. When a client admits and explains, the defendant admits to committing the crime but claims to have done it for good reason. For example, if the defendant is being charged with breaking into someone home and stealing jewelry, they could defend their case by admitting that they took the jewelry, but only because their friend gave them the key the house so that they could borrow the jewelry.
After the defendant has given his/her story, the defense attorney will begin to develop a strategy for the courtroom. In order to execute their strategy effectively, attorneys and their defendants may go through a serious of coaching exercises to prepare for the legal process ahead of them. Lawyers are supposed to be zealous advocates of their client’s cause, so they should be willing to help prepare their client for the case. Many times, defense attorneys will create mock-interviews so that the defendant can remember and recall their story correctly. They may revisit crime scenes in order to help the defendant remember any important facts or information they may have forgotten. In the end, telling the defense attorney the whole truth is most beneficial to the defendant. Many times, defense attorneys are able to get their clients less severe sentencing if they are completely honest when they have actually committed a crime.