It amazes me how many people do not understand the importance of criminal defense lawyers in society. When someone is charged with a crime, it can feel like it is the world versus the defendant. Although that statement is not one hundred percent accurate, it is not far off. A defendant who has been arrested for a crime can often feel the weight of the State and all the State's resources against them. The Attorney General's office is well equipped with the use of many seasoned criminal defense lawyers, investigators, paralegals, secretaries, toxicology labs, police departments in addition to other agents. By contrast, the defendant stands before the Court alone. Often in criminal cases, the press is provided all their information from the Attorney General's office and the prosecuting police department, making it impossible for the defendant to successfully fight his battle in the court of public opinion. Who stands up for this little man? The press, the police, the politicians, the judge? No, the only person who will stand beside this defendant is his criminal defense attorney. Whether the charge is a drunk driving charge or a murder charge, the defendant has his back against the wall and his only ally is his criminal defense lawyer.
Historically, the need for a criminal defense lawyer was considered so important that our Founding Fathers included the right to counsel in the Bill of Rights. A defense lawyer's job is to zealously defend his client. However, in defending his client the criminal defense lawyer does so much more. Criminal defense lawyers often lead to justice, since without a criminal attorney people would not be able to competently defend themselves. Without criminal defense lawyers, there would be masses of innocent people being convicted without proper legal representation. Also by doing their job, criminal lawyers prevent unlimited searches and seizures by the police, racial profiling at traffic stops as well as other societal goods.
When a defense lawyer fights to defend one person's rights, the defense lawyer is actually not only standing up for these people rights but standing up for everyone's Constitutional rights. Everyone deserves a vigorous defense! The day we say that they do not, is the day we let the police and politicians decide who is guilty.
Many people often forget that without defense lawyers, punishment would often not be just. Too often, I see a defendant go before the court pro-se and get taken advantage of by the prosecution. The pro-se defendant will get a punishment that is unjust and unfair. Should people go to jail for smoking marijuana? Should they lose their diver's license for 6 months for a couple of speeding tickets? The fact is that good people often get arrested and that arrest record should not dictate their life's story. Often I see judges and prosecutors acting too hastily to give a sentence that will have a long lasting negative implication on someone's life. I remember instances when I first started practicing law, that a certain judge would always want to give one year probation to a defendant for a first offense marijuana charge as opposed to a filing. The result of this harsh sentence was that some college student would be stuck with a drug charge on his record for at least 6 years making for a bleak future. The students often would incorrectly think that if they hired a lawyer the judge would get mad at them and the consequences would be worse. They would think that "If i just go up and admit it I will be better off." The fact is that they could not be further from the truth. When you represent yourself in court, more often than not you get taken advantage of by the criminal justice system.
My role as a criminal defense attorney is to ensure that the defendant's Constitutional Rights are protected and that they get an even playing field to confront the prosecution in the courtroom thereby making sure they receive a just outcome.