What does a criminal defense attorney actually do?
My law firm puts every case through an internal process--a formula that we believe provides effective and efficient representation that gets results for our clients.
Step 1 - Client Intake Meeting In order to effectively represent my client, I need to know their side of the story. This is crucial since it dictates many of the decisions and strategy throughout the course of the case.
The intake meeting is also an opportunity to explain and counsel my client to submit mitigating documents for presentation at court. These are documents I can use to show the court and the prosecution all the good things about my client and that my client deserves leniency because they are an otherwise law abiding and productive citizen.
Step 2 - Obtaining the Evidence I obtain the “discovery” (aka, the prosecution’s evidence) that they claim shows my client is guilty of the crimes charged. I conduct a review of all of this evidence which may include police reports, witness statements, forensic analysis, physical evidence, photos, videos and other materials in law enforcement’s possession.
Step 3 - Drawing a Road Map At the beginning of the case, I draft a Litigation Plan. This is a map of our litigation strategy going forward to ensure an efficient and effective defense on the case. The plan includes a summary of the facts, an analysis of the relevant law, a list of defense and prosecution witnesses, a list of evidence and potential exhibits, a investigation strategy, a motion strategy, and the results of any research on novel issues presented in the case.
Step 4 - Executing the Plan Once the strategy is in place, I send out an investigator to gather evidence by interviewing witnesses, subpoenaing relevant documents, and taking pictures of the crime scene or other areas of interest. I assign forensic casework to my expert consultants who review prosecution casework or conduct new independent casework relevant to the defense. I file any pretrial motions that are necessary based on the unique legal issues of the case.
Step 5 - Negotiation for Advantageous Resolution I use the defense I’ve built to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney for a resolution of the case that is in line with my client’s goals. We use mitigating documents and the results of our investigation and/or forensic case work as leverage in these negotiations.
Step 6 - Take the Case to Trial When necessary, I take the case to trial and present the defense in court to a jury. Again we use the results of our case work as a basis for the defense including the results of our investigation and forensic case work. Finally, throughout the process I provide legal counsel to my client. This means that I explain the procedure, the law, and the issues in detail so they feel confident they understand what’s going on. When the client has a major decision to make (like whether to accept an offer from the prosecution or whether to testify at their trial) I give them the information and analysis to make the best decision in their case.