Right to Trial

The vast majority of criminal cases never go to trial. I was shocked when I started practicing criminal law how few cases were going to trial. The prosecutors don’t want to go to trial because of time constraints. The judges are hesitant because of docket overloads. And defense attorneys don’t want to because they don’t know how to properly present a case to best represent their clients. This article from the Washington Post sums up the state of the criminal justice system. Over the past year I have taken numerous cases to trial and/or hearings because I don’t want to fall into the trap of pleading my clients rights away. My clients don’t deserve this, and I don’t practice this way. I never will. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time to plea bargain. But each case needs to be thoroughly evaluated to reach that conclusion. This reminds me of a case I had in the early part of 2015. My client was dead set on going to trial, and I was fully supportive. We both thought it was an unjust charge. It just so happened that the charge was a minor misdemeanor disorderly conduct, which carried no potential jail time pursuant to law. I was hounded by the prosecutor and court staff as to why I was taking a minor misdemeanor to trial. “Just plead, it’s only a minor misdemeanor” said one bailiff. The prosecutor even tried to get me to plead my client to the non-jailable charge or she would re-file the case with more severe charges. We never flinched, standing by our belief of innocence. And she never followed through on her ‘scare’ tactic. Once at trial, and after my very damaging cross examination of the prosecutors witnesses, she asked for a recess from the judge. Upon returning from the recess and not even making it through her whole case, she dismissed the charges. It’s unfortunate that my client had to go through the legal gymnastics to achieve the proper adjudication. But he did. He stood up for what was right, and he won. As an attorney, you respect your client for taking such a stand. This is what keeps you fighting the good fight for those that deserve it.