It is an inescapable question that law firms all around the world struggle to deal with: why do criminal lawyers defend the guilty?
There is a common skepticism and cynicism present regarding solicitors who front a defence for their client, even when the evidence overwhelmingly points to their guilt.
Yet there is a distinction between what is circumstantial and what is proven.
When individuals are deemed guilty by association or what is known as ‘trial by media’ when outside influences with a platform set the agenda, that is when the rule of law can be threatened.
Here we will look at the role of best criminal lawyers in these instances and outline why they put themselves forward for representation of a defendant.
Everyone is Free to Seek Representation
What underpins a healthy and thriving democracy is for the justice system to allow anyone to seek representation. Even those who have been charged with the most serious of crimes, from rape and murder to manslaughter, fraud, sexual assault or robbery – they have the opportunity to pay for counsel, to have one appointed to them by the court, to represent themselves or simply offer a no contest plea.
Without those devices in place, the fate of these individuals will be dictated to by the court – eliminating an essential freedom.
Helping to Avoid Added Risk and Exposure
Perhaps an assailant has been privy to a crime or holds knowledge of a matter that makes them culpable in some part. Even in those scenarios, individuals can place themselves in jeopardy during police interviews or interrogations where additional charges can be wrongly filed.
Solicitors who give counsel to these citizens help to establish the boundaries, preventing their client from responding to leading questions or speculating on anecdotal evidence. Avoiding this type of exposure and risk matters.
Prosecution Holds Burden of Proof
The saying ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ is in play with cases of criminal law. The burden of proof rests with the prosecution as it is a fact that you are innocent until proven guilty.
That is a universal standard for open and free democracies and when that is compared to other nations that are under dictatorships or communist rule, many innocent individuals are placed in jail when the defence holds the burden of proof. It is a compassionate interpretation of the law, but it is a standard that prevents innocent parties from being locked up.
Being Charged Doesn’t Equate To Guilt
Remember – when a defendant who has been charged of a crime seeks a lawyer, that solicitor is not defending the guilty. That would be getting ahead of the process because it is only a judge or jury of their peers who can actually determine if they indeed meet those standards beyond a reasonable doubt.
So technically speaking the premise of the question ‘why do criminal lawyers defend the guilty’ is not technically true before a judgment is handed down. That will be the case though for solicitors who challenge decisions and file motions for appeal, an avenue that they are entitled to under certain conditions.
Lawyers Face Penalties or Disbarment When Consciously Defending Guilty Acts
It is important to remember that a solicitor cannot knowingly make legal arguments on the record that they know are false. If they have been privy to evidence that illustrates wire fraud or a confession has been made in confidence about an action, that creates a difficulty for the representative as they have to utilise other forms of evidence and point holes in the prosecution instead.
An attorney is also free to walk away from their client if they believe they are under jeopardy themselves or that the charged individual is not acting in good faith. Should they continue in the knowledge they are defending a guilty citizen, that is grounds for disbarment and potential further sanctions.