The Real Truth
Search the internet for an attorney to represent you in a criminal matter. You'll see dozens of advertisements by criminal defense lawyers in any city who tout themselves as "the most aggressive," or "having won thousands of cases," or perhaps offering a "relentless defense." Want to know how the practice of law works in the real world and what's really important to a successful outcome? Read on
In Phoenix, Arizona, where I have practiced criminal defense for the last twenty years, there are probably upwards of 25,000 people each year who are arrested and charged with various types of crimes. Guess what? Less than two percent of those cases will actually proceed to trial. The remainder will be resolved by way of a plea agreement, diversion or outright dismissal. So is it most important to have the "most aggressive lawyer" or the "relentless defense"?
What Really Matters
Sure, most qualified criminal; defense lawyers will become aggressive when the situations calls for it and are capable of conducting a trial. However, when choosing an attorney to defend you against a criminal charge, there are a number of other factors you should look at. These include, the lawyer's overall reputation, his intelligence and experience and perhaps most of all, the lawyer's ability to negotiate. Undoubtedly, trial experience is important. However, chances are your case will resolve without going to trial. Consequently, the ability to negotiate a favorable outcome is extremely vital.
When I am hired to defend a client in a criminal matter, there are a number of items I am particularly interested in. Specifically,
- the nature of the charge and any mandatory sentencing laws
- the client's previous history and prior felony convictions
- the client's version of the events including his contact with police
- pre-trial discovery, including police reports, photographs, 911 calls, witness statements, etc.
Most experienced criminal defense attorneys have a general idea whether a case will resolve or is likely to go to trial very early in the process. Therefore, negotiating tactics are very important in obtaining the best results for a client.
Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Issues will arise in some cases which can affect whether a prosecutor will be able to use certain evidence against you. Maybe there is a legitimate argument that police unlawfully searched you or your house, or whether they did not advise you of your Miranda rights before questioning you or used improper techniques to identify you. In these cases a motion can be filed which challenges whether the evidence can be used. However, the operative word here is CAN. Unfortunately, in most situations courts will rule in favor of the police and prosecutor unless there has been a clear violation of your rights. Consequently, is it smart to file a motion and hope for the best? Maybe instead the better practice is to bring the issue to the prosecutor's attention and use it as a negotiating tool for a better result. You only get one bite at that apple. If you lose the motion, any negotiating leverage you have is lost as well.
You Get More With Honey Than Vinegar
Anyone involved in the criminal justice system has observed the attorney who wants to scream at every hearing and fight with every prosecutor or judge who has a different position then theirs. Surely it is entertaining. However, it is not effective at all. If fact, criminal defense attorneys who engage in this practice usually cause prosecutors to "dig in their heels" and wind up placing their clients at a disadvantage. In my twenty years of experience defending sex crimes, homicides, property offenses and drug and marijuana crimes, I have found that my clients receive better results when we :
- are cordial to prosecutors, judges and court staff
- are realistic in terms of a favorable and appropriate outcome
- properly investigate and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of our case
- take our time to make logical decisions without relying on pure emotion
Probably the best advice I could give to a client searching for a criminal defense attorney in Arizona is that :
"a good attorney will know the law, a great attorney knows the law and how to negotiate."
I have conducted numerous trials during the last twenty years in all types of criminal cases. Rest assured however, the experience of trials has taught me that the ability to negotiate on behalf of a client is just as, if not more important than the ability to try a case before a jury.
If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with DUI or any criminal offense, call an attorney with the experience, negotiation and trial skills to get you the best results. Call me, Attorney Raymond Kimble, directly at (480) 833-8613.