Why Your Lawyer Might Not Fight To Prove Your Innocence
In the popular imagination, a criminal law attorney is somebody who stands in front of a jury and proves their client's innocence. The real-world version of a lawyer, though, often elects to do something quite different. Especially if you feel your innocence is self-evident, you might wonder why your attorney would choose to handle your case in a different way. Here are some reasons why a lawyer may not argue the same way you see it portrayed on TV.
Making the Prosecution Do Their Job
Conducting a prosecution, particularly if a case goes to trial, is often a long process. The law also requires both police officers and prosecutors to get a lot of things right. Prosecutors have to be careful about how a case is initially filed, what evidence is introduced, how they introduce it, and who they ask for testimony.
For example, suppose the police failed to maintain a proper chain of custody on a baseball bat that was allegedly used in an assault. A criminal law attorney has the right to make the state prove this piece of evidence was handled competently. The prosecution has to document how the weapon was collected, who collected it, where it was stored, and who had access to it. Likewise, they have to eventually make the evidence available to the defense.
If they screw up any part of this process, the defense can ask the court to throw out the evidence. Even better, if the evidence was a cornerstone of the case, a criminal law attorney may even move to have the entire case dismissed.
Avoiding an Affirmative Defense
When someone openly contends that they are innocent, this often leads to what is known as an affirmative defense. Rather than just saying the prosecution hasn't met the burden of proof, the defense is going the extra mile to say the client is innocent.
Especially in the early days of a case, there usually isn't much upside in presenting an affirmative defense. The prosecution might present phone logs, for example, that refute a defendant's professed alibi. It's sometimes best to get through the initial hearings and get to discovery, the period when the prosecution has to turn over everything it has.
Once the prosecution's cards have been laid on the table, a criminal law attorney might elect to mount an affirmative defense. Even if a defendant has evidence of their innocence, though, a lawyer may choose to focus on getting the case dismissed and forcing the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt.
For more information, speak with a criminal law attorney.