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Lecture 6

CRMJ 254 Lecture 6: CRMJ 254 Lecture 6

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Towson University
Criminal Justice
CRMJ 254

CRMJ 254 Lecture 6 Introduction to Criminal Justice Defense Attorneys • Defense Attorneys th o 6 Amendment ▪ “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right … to have assistance of counsel for his defense” o Defendants may waive their waves and represent themselves – a risky strategy o Ex. of famous pro se (self-represented) defendants : ▪ Ted Bundy ▪ Jack Kevorkian ▪ Colin Ferguson • Realities of the Defense Attorney’s Job o Not for everybody o The public often distrusts and misunderstands defense attorneys o Defense attorneys must interact constantly with clients whose lives and problems are troubling o Criminal practice may not pay as well as other areas of law o May clients will be guilty, and his “guilty knowledge” which brings its own set of challenges and frustrations • Defending a Guilty Client o Honest communication and trust between attorney and defendant is critical o Must remember : ▪ It is not the responsibility of the defense attorney to prove the client is innocent ▪ It is not the role of the defense attorney to pass judgement on the client’s guilt or innocence o Foundation of criminal justice process is presumption of innocence ▪ All persons charged with crimes are entitled to a rigorous defense ▪ Defense attorney is expected to present a meaningful test or prosecution’s case • Without the participation of the defense attorney, the entire criminal justice process would be meaningless ▪ Defense attorneys might view their work idealistically o Roles of defense attorney : provide best possible legal counsel and advocacy within the legal and ethical limits of the profession ▪ Attorney-client privilege • Defense attorney cannot reveal content of communications with client – including admissions of criminal involvement • Absolutely sacrosanct • Does not apply to future crimes that are being planned but have not yet taken place – not previous actions ▪ Defense lawyer absolutely cannot knowingly present false testimony (subornation of perjury) • So if defense attorney knows client is guilty – best strategy is to avoid a trial altogether and plead guilty • Can’t put a guilty defendant on the stand at trial because he/she knows defendant will have to lie • Duties of a Defense Attorney o Defendant’s advocate : ▪ Pretrial investigation skills ▪ Obtain pretrial release ▪ Engage in plea bargain talks ▪ Defend at trial and attempt to prevent a conviction • Serving client’s interests in jury selection • Utilize effective defense strategy • Aggressive cross-examination of prosecution witnesses ▪ Secure best sentence possible ▪ Cultivate good working relationship with prosecutors and judges • To better serve clients, particularly in plea bargain negotiations ▪ Sometimes conduct the appeal upon conviction o Protect defendant’s constitutional rights at every stage of the process o Provide psychological and moral support for defendant ▪ Expected to provide reassurance, but must also realistically prepare client for the worst ▪ Not all defense attorneys have the time to do this – caseload varies o An effect defense attorney … ▪ Will seek to understand the facts of the case and the nature of the prosecution’s’ evidence before deciding the bet course of action for client ▪ Discovery process and honest communication with client will help here (assuming defendant is truthful with their attorney) ▪ For most criminal defendants, the best course of action is to avoid a trial and enter a guilty plea ▪ Defendant can always reject attorney’s advice o Fundamental question : ▪ What is the most favorable course of action for my client, given the circumstances? • Serving client effectively will often mean working in cooperation with, rather than opposition to, the prosecutor – particularly in plea bargain negotiations • Kinds of Defense Attorneys o Private practice ▪ Hired by accused to provide representation o Court-appoi
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