Put yourself in the position of any defendant for a second. Let’s say you’ve fallen into legal trouble, been accused of a crime, and retained legal counsel to defend you. Although you may not actually be responsible for the crime for which you are being charged, you are aware in your heart that you have done something wrong. Naturally, you’d like to avoid the harsh sentence the prosecution is seeking.
You’ll have two questions before you feel comfortable working with your attorney :
- Are you guilty in the eyes of your attorney?
- Can your attorney put aside his or her belief in your innocence or guilt and effectively represent you?
The majority of criminal defense attorneys will tell you that it is irrelevant what you answer in option one. Most people don’t even care what you did. The role of a lawyer does not include determining guilt. The actual question is number two: Can the attorney adequately defend you? This is because a lawyer’s primary responsibility is to vigorously defend you against the crime of which you are accused. For this reason, it’s crucial to choose a criminal defense attorney who takes their duty to represent you seriously and who will make every effort to build a strong case on your behalf.
How could a criminal defense lawyer defend someone they believe is guilty?
The response has two parts. First, “legal guilt” and “factual guilt” are two different concepts. Second, attorneys have a duty to uphold a legal obligation to their clients.
What’s happening in a trial ?
A criminal defense attorney’s responsibility is to defend you against the allegations made against you. There just has to be “probable cause” that you could have committed the crime before charges are filed. It is the prosecuting attorney’s responsibility to establish your guilt of the alleged offense at trial “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
As the U.S. operates under the principle of “innocent until proven guilty,” which, while not explicitly stated in American law, derives from ancient law and is supported by the 5th, 6th, and 14th amendments to the Constitution, “beyond a reasonable doubt” is a high standard that is intended to make conviction difficult. Until they have shown your obvious legal culpability, the government cannot take away your life, liberty, or property.
If the prosecution has the burden of proof, the trial will focus on either demonstrating or failing to establish that you are guilty of the alleged offense, regardless of whether you are truly guilty.
What “guilty” means ?
In court, we distinguish between “legal guilt” and “factual guilt”. The subject of “factual guilt,” or whether you are truly guilty, is not being addressed in your trial. The issue at trial is legal guilt: Has the prosecution shown sufficient proof to establish the allegations made against you “beyond a reasonable doubt”?
Since it doesn’t pertain to the case, the majority of criminal defense attorneys won’t inquire as to whether you are genuinely “guilty.” Also, finding out is not their responsibility. They have a duty to support you and provide a solid defense. Their responsibility is to “keep the system honest,” as one attorney put it. Because of the way our judicial system is set up, the court, including judges and juries, finds persons accountable. Judges hold the gavel, not attorneys.
But what if the “truth” comes out?
A major caveat to this issue is that a lawyer may never be absolutely convinced that a client is guilty, even if the client expresses “guilt” to the lawyer. The customer can be telling lies to protect another person, or there could be other issues at hand. There are rules in place to keep attorneys honest: they cannot submit false evidence or lie if they are aware of material relating to their client’s legal culpability. However, contact between attorneys and clients is shielded by the attorney-client privilege. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s not the role of the attorney to determine actual guilt. It is decided by the court.
Although criminal attorneys may be despised in popular culture, their role is crucial to uphold justice and guarantee fair outcomes for anybody facing accusations. Criminal defense attorneys are only performing their duty when they stand up for a person whose rights are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and cannot be readily restricted. You can get in touch with Singh Law 4 U if you’re looking for the best criminal defense lawyer.