Being charged with a crime may leave an individual feeling a variety of emotions, from hopeless and helpless to frightened, confused, and angry about the situation they’re facing. To make matters worse, the media and court of public opinion often convict a defendant in the public eye before he or she has even been tried.
Keep in mind that an arrest does not have to lead to a conviction, and the accused is innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law. In the criminal justice system, defense attorneys act as sentries to hold prosecutors and law enforcement accountable for their actions as they protest misconduct threatening the rights of the accused.
The criminal defense attorneys at Berry Law have a proven record of success trying and winning criminal trials. Clients have the benefit of an entire team of knowledgeable and experienced litigators who will challenge violations of your Constitutional rights and fight tooth and nail to defend your freedom. The team at Berry Law knows what it takes to win and can point to common traits defendants in cases with successful outcomes tend to share. Some of the most important traits include:
Securing Representation Immediately
Defendants who hire representation as soon as they are charged with a crime or even believe they are suspected of committing a crime, tend to have overall better outcomes than defendants who delay. Not hiring representation can hurt a case early on by leaving the accused vulnerable to police questioning without the benefit of sound legal advice.
A person accused of a crime always has the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions from law enforcement until his or her attorney is present. This forces investigators to gather their own evidence and develop a case that might not otherwise exist. Even a completely innocent slip of the tongue or turn of phrase can be used against a defendant later in court. Don’t speak with law enforcement until representation is secured.
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Selecting the Right Attorney
In criminal law, an attorney’s record is important since a lawyer with a past record of success is more likely to win again in the future. Select an attorney with a record of successful litigation in criminal defense trials and experience with trying criminal cases.
Choosing a lawyer with an extensive criminal defense background means he or she is familiar with the chain of events that typically occurs during a criminal trial and can respond accordingly. An attorney has the ability to see a case from many different perspectives, and they can use that information to mount a strong defense strategy and construct airtight arguments that win at trial.
For example, an experienced criminal litigator is more likely to immediately file a Motion to Dismiss, which is a request to the judge in a criminal case to drop all charges and dismiss the case. In cases where the motion is granted, the case is over and the client gains his or her freedom.
A Motion to Dismiss can be based on any number of factors, including:
- Insufficient evidence presented by the prosecution at a preliminary hearing or trial.
- Accusations of prosecutorial misconduct, such as the destruction of evidence.
- Charges filed in the incorrect jurisdiction. If the crime occurred in a location outside of the jurisdiction where the defendant was charged, there may be a case for filing a Motion to Dismiss.
- Statute of limitations has expired for the offense in question.
- The defendant’s Constitutional rights or rights to due process were violated by law enforcement because of illegally conducted search and seizure procedures. If the government has failed to provide a speedy trial due to unnecessary delays in court proceedings, then the case could be dismissed.
- Errors to the charging documents in the case. The paperwork filed upon a defendant’s arrest and charging must contain certain details such as dates, locations, and facts about the alleged crimes. If any of those pieces of information are missing, an attorney may file a motion to dismiss.
Another common move that winning criminal defense attorneys make is to argue for the exclusion of evidence at trial. This prevents a jury from hearing certain information pertaining to the case that may be prejudicial to his or her client. Some scenarios an attorney might use to argue for the exclusion of certain evidence include:
- The evidence is unreliable.
- It was obtained using unlawful methods that violated the defendant’s civil rights.
- There was a chain of custody violation, which put the evidence at risk for contamination or tampering.
- Illegally obtained statements were in violation of the accused individual’s Miranda rights.
The exclusion of evidence can hobble the state’s case and make it difficult for prosecutors to pursue a conviction. Without evidence, there may be no case.
Seasoned criminal defense lawyers not only put on a case by presenting the evidence to jurors, they are also very skilled at explaining their client’s innocence to a jury. Because the prosecution must prove its case against a defendant beyond a reasonable doubt, the defense attorney’s job is to create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors by providing details and evidence that point the jury toward a not guilty verdict. Successful criminal trial lawyers are also able to explain exactly why reasonable doubt exists to believe that the defendant did not commit the crime for which they are charged.
Having a Clear Defense Strategy
It’s important that an attorney in a criminal case has a clear vision for how they plan to defend a client should the case go to trial. That strategy will vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case, but some common examples of defense strategies are:
- Arguing that a crime didn’t occur. Whether through lack of physical evidence, consent by the alleged victim, or because the actions of the defendant didn’t meet the threshold for illegal activity, this defense operates off of the belief that the defendant had no involvement because there was no crime.
- A case of mistaken identity. This defense purposes that a crime did occur, but the defendant was not the perpetrator of that crime.
- The defendant didn’t understand the significance of his or her criminal actions due to insanity, intoxication, or a mistake of the law or fact.
- The defendant was justified in their actions because they were defending their own life or that of another person, or because their actions occurred while they were under duress.
- Arguing that a crime may have occurred, but the client withdrew his or her participation in the criminal activity before it happened, or that is occurred as a result of entrapment by law enforcement.
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Having a Never Give Up Attitude
The outcome of a criminal trial can alter the course of a person’s life, costing them personal relationships, their good name, financial security, and possibly their freedom. It can be tempting to take a plea bargain to minimize the possible repercussions of a conviction. However, even a plea bargain deal means carrying a felony offense on your record and can involve time in prison, registration on violent or sexual offender registries, and probation. These terms are typically unacceptable for innocent people.
Defendants most likely to secure a not guilty verdict are willing to fight their case to the end and maintain their innocence against the false allegations against them. They focus on a not guilty verdict instead of any other possible outcome.
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Willing to be Honest
An accused person may be embarrassed or ashamed of things that have happened in the past, but it’s important to be completely truthful with your attorney regarding your case. Being open about seemingly unimportant personal information and details can be vital to the success of a criminal trial.
One of the worst things that can happen is for an attorney to be blindsided by information they weren’t privy to. It can cause the jury to question the attorney’s credibility, as well as allow a savvy prosecutor to pick up on inconsistencies between attorney and defendant stories and use them to discredit the defendant in court.
Any information shared between attorney and client is protected by attorney-client privilege, and therefore must remain confidential unless you grant permission for it to be shared. When it comes to speaking with your criminal defense attorney, successful cases are won on complete honesty.
Mounting a strong criminal defense can be expensive. An attorney will need the ability to hire private investigators and expert witnesses who can testify on the defendant’s behalf and bolster his or her case.
In addition to paying attorney fees for the best attorney you can afford, be prepared to fully financially commit to your defense. While this may feel like an expense you could cut corners on, keep in mind that a criminal conviction can change your life forever. When you consider that spending decades in prison will diminish your lifetime earnings, the expense of lawyers, court reporters, investigators and experts is worth the long-term investment.
Defendants who win are willing to go the distance and spend the money to provide their attorneys with as many resources as necessary to effectively fight the charges against them.
Working as a Team
Jury trials are most successful when the attorney and client work together to build a case. The attorney’s job is to launch an independent investigation of the charges that his or her client is facing. This may be done by vising the scene of the crime, reviewing evidence, and reading through police reports.
The client’s responsibility is to communicate effectively with his or her attorney and provide any information that they request. Trust between client and attorney is paramount to putting on a successful defense. When the client doesn’t place his or her faith in an attorney, it’s often impossible for the attorney to gain a full understanding of the case.
Likewise, the attorney must trust that what the client tells them is the truth in order to present the best possible defense at trial.
Leaning on a Support System
Felony cases in Nebraska can go on for months or years before they go to trial and are heard by a jury. This can be a very lonely and isolating process, and defendants are typically under immense pressure and stress from the time that they are arrested and charged until they hear a not guilty verdict.
Having a system of family and friends who can provide reassurance, emotional support, and financial assistance during these trying times gives a defendant the courage to keep going and the desire and drive to fight.
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