Why do lawyers defend guilty clients?
As criminal defense lawyers in NJ, it is our job to protect our client’s rights.
Besides, how do you know that my client is guilty? Were you at the scene of the alleged crime? Do you have evidence that I don’t? If my client is guilty, it shouldn’t be difficult for a judge or jury to make this decision.
She asked, "How Does A Lawyer Defend A Guilty Person?"
I attended a social gathering many years ago when another guest approached me to introduce herself. We exchanged pleasantries and she asked me what line of work I was in. Proudly, I stated that I was a criminal defense attorney.
She rolled her eyes and scoffed, “What type of person makes a living from helping criminals get away with their crimes?”
I responded, “It takes a special person to defend the accused.”
She turned and walked away.
I never expected to see or hear from her ever again.
"My son just got arrested."
A few months later my secretary phones me with an emergency. The woman from the party called multiple times and demanded to speak with me. She insisted that she had an emergency.
When I called her back the conversation went like this:
“Good morning, this is Alan. May I speak Kathy?”
“Oh, yes, thank you so much for calling me right away. We met a few months. My son just got arrested & we have a family emergency.”
“Can you meet me at my office to discuss the situation?”
“Yes, thank you. We are on our way.”
Probation in NJ
Kathy’s son was arrested for Possession of Marijuana in NJ.
He was charged with 3rd degree Possession & Distribution.
He was in his car, on a residential cul-de-sac with his car idling, while he waited for his girlfriend. A neighbor noticed a suspicious vehicle and called 911. Upon arrival, the police established probable cause, searched the vehicle and discovered the Marijuana or Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) he had in the back seat.
Her son confessed to me that he was dealing weed at his private college. I agreed to represent him and entered my appearance as his attorney with the prosecutor’s office. I requested all of the Discovery (evidence) in his case and proceeded to study it thoroughly.
I discovered that the police followed all proper procedures and did not violate any of my client’s rights. During questioning, my client waived his Miranda rights and confessed that the CDS in his vehicle was his. The more I studied and analyzed his case, the weaker it became to defend. We even waited on the New Jersey State Police Laboratory to examine the evidence and certify that it was THC (marijuana). It was 100% marijuana! No surprise here.
Next, I performed a background check and my client had a clean. He was also a top student in both high school and college. I started thinking about alternative options to trial and scheduled another meeting with the client. I described the entire criminal procedure and showed him every piece of evidence in his case.
We discussed his chances of winning & losing at trial. A trial was not an option.
So, the next step in the case involved the possibility of applying to and being accepted into a Diversionary Program. NJ offers a one-time get out of jail free card in lieu of prison.
There are different types of Diversionary programs in NJ. Many factors are taken into consideration when applying a client into Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) .
My client was an excellent candidate for a “Second Chance.”
We successfully admitted Kathy’s son into PTI and after being on probation for two years, his case was dismissed.
He took advantage of the second chance he got and made the best of it. Currently, he is earning his certification in alcohol and drug abuse counseling. His mission is to help at-risk youth.
An added bonus to this story is that his mother, Kathy wrote me a beautiful letter apologizing for her unfair judgment of me and the career I chose.
Mother's Apology to drug lawyer
“If it wasn’t for you and your passionate defense of my son, he never would’ve received a second chance. I now understand why we need criminal defense attorneys. We’re human and my son made a mistake and you were there to get us through it. God bless you and please accept my apologies for how I may have made you feel years ago. I now see that it does take a special person to do what you do.”
So, Is A Lawyer really helping a guilty person go free?
Now back to the original question,”how defense attorneys can defend someone guilty of a crime?”
As a defense attorney in NJ, my role varies depending on each case. On some occasions, like the example outlined above, my role is not to help the criminal go free. My role is to examine the evidence, discuss the strengths and weaknesses and assist clients in navigating the system.
In this case, my client was caught red-handed with a bag full of weed and his case was lost. However, he had a clean record and was an ideal candidate for a legal program that exists to give first-time defendants a second chance.
He learned his lesson and made the best out of the second chance he got.
Wouldn’t you agree that everyone deserves a second chance?