CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS – CHOOSING THE RIGHT ONE
Not all criminal defense lawyers are created equal. Like any other occupation, there are some criminal lawyers who are more talented than others, some who work harder than others, and some who have the talent, drive and experience necessary to get the best results when you are facing criminal charges. Make no mistake, criminal defense is an art form and working the case the right way can be the difference between a dismissal and a criminal conviction.
Experience, while not everything, is a significant factor. In New York City and the greater Metropolitan area, each jurisdiction has its own way of doing things. Each jurisdiction has its own District Attorney’s Office and its own courts. Defending a criminal case in Manhattan can often be very different from how you may defend criminal charges in Brooklyn, the Bronx or Queens. Westchester and Nassau are their own fiefdoms with their own way of doing things. So you need a criminal attorney with the breadth of experience to know how each jurisdiction works, and how to tailor the defense of the criminal charges for that jurisdiction.
Many cases require what I like to call the “just cause” approach- making the prosecutor and the judge realize the humanity of the client and the myriad mitigating circumstances that call out for leniency. Whether it be the wealthy housewife who shoplifts at Saks because she is having a mid-life crises, the young man who commits a robbery to demonstrate his toughness to his friends, the Upper East Side banker who accused of domestic violence, or the twenty-something who sells drugs to an undercover police officer out of complete foolishness, the “just cause” approach- if handled the right way- can often lead to spectacular results. Indeed, I’ve had cases where the client is caught on video committing a felony dismissed outright by the prosecutor because they were persuaded it was the right thing to do.
Yet not all cases are ripe for the “just cause” approach. There are some cases that require what I like to call “bare-knuckle” litigation- challenging every aspect of the prosecutor’s case with carefully drafted motions, defense experts and seasoned investigators. This approach is generally required in high profile cases and cases with very serious allegations. For example, a client with a criminal history is charged with possession of a loaded firearm and the prosecutor believes that he had every intent to use it on another person. In such a case the “just cause” will likely not get you very far. Only by challenging every aspect of the prosecutor’s case and making them understand that they may very likely lose the hearings and/or trial will the best results be achieved- either by the prosecutor who will make a great offer to get rid of the case, or sometimes by the Judge who will suppress the evidence, or sometimes at trial, where the jury returns a “NOT GUILTY” on all counts verdict.
Of course, there are many cases where a hybrid of these two approaches may be necessary. The problem is that not many lawyers are good at either of these approaches, let alone both, and thus choosing the right criminal defense lawyer to defend you against criminal charges in New York is probably the most important decision you will have to make regarding your case.