In the hit Netflix series “Making a Murderer”, attorney Jerry Buting frequently asks himself this question. He is appalled by the actions of his client’s trial attorney, Len Kachinsky, who failed to advise his client about potential plea deals and does not challenge key witnesses during cross-examination. If you were ever charged with a crime, would you hire a defense lawyer to help you navigate the justice system? Or would you seek out a defense attorney to find out how much time you are facing instead? If you are thinking about being that second kind of person – someone willing to spend the money necessary to hire their own counsel – it might be helpful to know some things first. Here are ways a defense attorney might sleep at night.
How Do Defense Attorneys Sleep At Night?
1. The Attorney-Client Privilege is Still Intact
First of all, the attorney-client privilege is alive and well. The rule of confidentiality between attorney and client is one of the oldest and most important in the legal profession. It is designed to protect the client from overzealous prosecution and to allow the attorney to speak freely on behalf of the client. It is an essential part of the justice system. The fact that a defense attorney works for the defendant does not alter this rule. All communication between the attorney and the client is confidential. That means the defense attorney does not have to answer questions about what the defendant said to them. Some jurisdictions have used information gained from the defense attorney during pretrial proceedings against the defendant. But this practice is controversial and is often challenged in court.
2. Defense Attorneys Are Bound by Ethical Guidelines
Defense attorneys have their own professional rules of conduct that go along with the attorney-client privilege. An attorney is bound by the same rules of evidence that govern prosecutors, with a few exceptions. One of those exceptions is that a defense attorney can ethically present information that the prosecution would be unable to use. These rules are intended to ensure that both sides are given a fair trial. The defense attorney is expected to be both ethical and effective. There are several professional organizations representing the legal profession, including the American Bar Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the American Society for Legal Defense. These organizations publish a wide variety of standards and guidelines for legal professionals to follow.
3. Defense Attorneys Try Their Best to Help Their Clients
Every defense attorney has a different way of doing business. But every defense attorney wants to be as helpful as possible to their client. Many defense attorneys even take no payment unless they are able to obtain an acquittal or dismissal. They understand that the client needs all the help he or she can get, and they want to do everything they can to help. Defense attorneys often know much more about the law and the justice system than their clients do. They are expected to advise their clients about their best course of action in a given situation. Defense attorneys are often the ones who advise their clients not to make any statement to the police at all. A good defense attorney will also be familiar with the legal system in their jurisdiction and able to obtain the best possible expert assistance. For example, they will know how to request a forensic lab analysis as soon as evidence from the case is received, instead of waiting until the case goes to trial.
4. Defense Attorneys Perform a Valuable Service to Society
Like all members of the justice system, defense attorneys serve the public good. A defense attorney’s job is to fight for their client and to ensure that their client is treated fairly. This means questioning and challenging evidence, witnesses, and the prosecution’s case. It also means advocating for their client’s interests and defending their client’s rights. The justice system is imperfect, and mistakes do happen. As much as defense attorneys would like to think that everything goes smoothly and perfectly every time, it’s just not the case. There are innocent people who are caught up in the system – and thanks to the defense attorneys on their side, many of those people are set free. If you have ever been falsely accused of a crime, you know how important the defense attorney is for your freedom.
5. Defense Attorneys Sleep at Night Because They Have To
Defense attorneys are experts in the criminal justice system. They know the ins and outs of how prosecutors build their cases, how judges rule on evidence, how juries decide on a verdict and the appeals process. They know the law inside and out, and they know how to get their client off the hook. Or at least they try to do so. In some cases, it is possible to prevent a person from being charged with a crime in the first place. In other cases, an attorney may be able to persuade prosecutors to reduce the charges or to offer a plea bargain. In many cases, the attorney can work to keep the charges from being serious or from resulting in significant jail time. In some cases, an attorney can help the judge decide that their client should receive a lighter sentence. In any case, the defense attorney is expected to fight for the client. It goes with the job. To sleep at night, a defense attorney must put the interests of their client first and do everything in their power to help their client get the best result possible.
Why Defense Attorneys Might Sleep Better Than You Think?
Defense attorneys are well-informed
To defend someone successfully, you have to know how the prosecution will approach the case. You have to know how the judge will react. You have to know what the relevant laws are and how they are applied in specific cases. You have to know how witnesses will react when the other side questions them. And you have to know how to defend your client accordingly. This means that at the very outset, prosecutors and judges aren’t dealing with someone who is uninformed.
Defense attorneys have a clear idea of what they’re protecting
At the outset of every case, defense attorneys will define the key elements of their case. They’ll clearly identify what is important to the outcome of the case and what needs to be protected. As the case progresses, these points of contention remain at the forefront of the defense attorney’s mind. This often means that the prosecution will struggle to make progress. They’ll find that they’re spending a lot of energy trying to prove something that the defense has made clear they don’t want to be proved. At times, they’ll be forced to abandon key aspects of the case entirely simply because the defense made it clear that it needed to be protected. When you’re a defense attorney, you are protecting your client.
Defense attorneys are masters of organization
Prosecutors go on the offensive. They go after a client, building a case against them and hoping to convince a judge that their client is guilty. Judges are there to rule on whether or not the prosecution has proven its case. Defense attorneys, however, have to be prepared for both of these scenarios. They need to defend their client against a prosecutor who is coming after them and defend them against a judge who might be inclined to rule against them. This means that defense attorneys need to be organized.
Defense attorneys know what to expect in court
As a prosecutor, you’ll have a general idea of what to expect in court. As a judge, you’ll have a general idea of what to expect in court. But as a defense attorney, you know what to expect in court. You know what the prosecutor is going to do before they do it. You know what the judge is going to ask before they ask it. You know what the witnesses are going to say before they say it. This is because you’ve been there before. You’ve done the same thing before. You’ve argued the same points before. You’ve cross-examined the same witnesses before. You’re familiar with the entire process. This means that you don’t have to worry about being caught off-guard. You don’t have to worry that the prosecution is going to make progress or that the judge is going to rule against you unexpectedly
It is incredibly difficult to be a defense attorney. You are expected to investigate every aspect of the case, collect evidence, go out and find witnesses, and build a case while the prosecution is building its case against you. You may be tempted to choose this path because you have seen the images from the courtroom when the prosecutor rests his case and the defendant has been led away in handcuffs – or you have watched the excitement of the courtroom when the verdict is read. It also includes sleepless nights spent worrying about how the trial may turn out and what the next day will bring.