Criminal Defense practice is really broken down into two distinct, but interrelated areas: (1) plea negotiation and (2) trial practice. The vast majority of criminal defense cases never go to a trial, which means they are generally resolved by reaching a deal that satisfies the government’s need to issue some punishment while also reducing the severity of that punishment to more or less match the wrongfulness of the alleged offense.
In some situations, going to trial is not a realistic option. For instance, if you are caught on film stealing TVs from a Wal-Mart, it would be essentially impossible to prove your factual innocence to a jury. However, a defense lawyer skilled in the art of plea negotiation may be able to drastically reduce your punishment, by mitigating the offense, proactively addressing restitution, and presenting positive character evidence.
Trial Practice, on the other hand, involves a completely different skill set. Unlike plea negotiations, trial lawyers must be quick on their feet and aggressive enough to attack flaws in the prosecution’s case theory, while also being likable enough to build trust with jury trial the jury. Trial lawyers must intimately know the rules of evidence when to object, when to make corrections to the record, and when to keep quiet to avoid annoying the judge or confusing the jury. A skilled lawyer will also know which witnesses to call to testify, which witnesses should not testify, and how each witness should be prepared so they don’t fall apart on cross-examination.
While plea negotiation and trial practice are two very different skills, they are still deeply intertwined. Many ultra-conservative prosecutors will refuse to offer reasonable plea deals when they feel confident that they would win at trial. That all changes when a defendant is represented by a respected trial lawyer who isn’t afraid to try the case in front of a jury. The better a lawyer is at the trial stage, the more incentive there is for the prosecution to offer better plea deals in order to avoid losing the case entirely at trial.
We work closely with each of our clients to understand what they need, what they stand to lose, and how to get them the best result for their unique and individual situation.
If you are facing criminal charges, let’s talk. (619) 732-6377