If you don’t think that hiring a good lawyer matters, think again. Not having the best advocate arguing for you in a criminal matter can cost you your freedom. Worse, it can cost you your career, your family, or your life. Or maybe all of it.
Don’t believe me – ask any of the individuals that have been exonerated[i] from prison over the past 20 years about their attorneys.[ii]
Many of those individuals probably wish that they had a better attorney representing them at the start of their case (or on their direct appeal.) Luckily for all the exonerated, some super attorney or a group of exceptional attorneys (backed by hard work, grit, determination, science, and a little luck) were able to eventually find these damned individuals to unwind their cases, clear their names, and get them released from their own personal hells.
Those individuals had a somewhat happy ending to their story. Not everyone is so lucky.
Understand what I am saying. I am not saying that those individuals that were exonerated automatically had a bad attorney, but (like anything else in life) it was a factor at some point in the case. Maybe it was a missed objection or two that failed to preserve an error for appellate review. Maybe it was a slight change in a witness’s testimony that was missed on cross-examination. Maybe it was a lack of preparation and experience in selecting the jury or understanding how to question potential jurors to determine who should and should not serve on this jury. There are so many variables it is mind-boggling.
In many of the exoneration cases, there were a plethora of messed up things that contributed to the conviction (like lying informants/ “jail-house” snitches, prosecutorial misconduct, hidden exculpatory evidence, dirty cops…etc.)[iii] While it may not have been the main culprit, subpar attornery-ing was probably a factor at some point. In many instances, it was a lack of experience and skill to recognize the problem (and not some apathy towards the client)
The quality, experience, and skill of the defense attorney is always a factor in the outcome of a case. Having the best attorney around may not guarantee a legal victory, but it slants the odds in the defendant’s favor to some extent (and any advantage is important in a criminal case). To use a baseball analogy, you can’t win the game in the first inning, but you sure can lose it if you don’t play well. The same is true for criminal litigation leading up and at trial.
Every single case (whether civil or criminal) is entirely driven by the facts. This is universally true. If both sides are represented by equally skilled and experienced attorneys, then the case should be decided on the facts. Whichever side has better facts will most likely prevail. It is that simple (provided both sides are represented by similarly skilled and experienced attorneys) and all things being equal.
This cannot be said when the defendant is represented by a lessor skilled and/or experienced attorney. Without the proper skill and experience, the chances increase that the defense attorney may miss an objection or motion or make a serious mistake. That is not to say that the best attorneys do not make mistakes, but the better skilled and experienced attorneys make every effort to avoid mistakes because they have the experience to recognize the problems as they develop. Typically, these attorneys are better at using the rules to their client’s advantage. These attorneys are also better at adapting “on the fly” as the situation changes.
Like the Grail Knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade said, “You have chosen wisely.”[iv] You want to have the piece of mind that comes from knowing you chose the best attorney you could to represent you. In the end, (win or lose) – you will have the confidence to meet the challenges of the criminal case head on knowing you have chosen wisely.
Anthony Candela is the Trial Dog and a three-time Board-Certified criminal trial attorney. He opened the Candela Law Firm, P.A. in 2014 and handles criminal trials and appeals (as well as estate planning, wills, and trusts). He received his J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law in 2000 and his B.A. in Political Science from King’s College in 1996. As an expert in criminal law and procedure, he has tried over a hundred cases to verdict. Since 2008, he has been certified and recertified by the Florida Bar in Criminal Trial three times. He has also argued several dozen appeals. In the federal system, he is admitted to the Middle District of Florida and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal. #candelalawfirm #thetrialdog
THE CHOICE OF ATTORNEY MATTERS. IN A CLOSE CASE, YOU WANT EVERY ADVANTAGE YOU CAN GET. YOU WANT THE BEST YOU CAN AFFORD. If you are looking for representation in a criminal matter, we believe we can help you. Please contact www.candelalawfirm.com or Anthony Candela at (813) 417-3645 to discuss your case.
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The purpose of this blog is purely education/information and should not be viewed as creating any attorney-client privilege between the reader and author.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, then please feel free to leave me a comment below and thank you reading this blog article. Clicking the link, you can also check out the author at his profile on AVVO.com (Anthony Candela)
Image source: pexels.com or from Paramount Pictures.
No. 21-009 Choose Wisely.
[i] “Exoneration” is defined as “the act of clearing someone of blame or of an accusation or criminal charge.” https://www.dictionary.com/browse/exoneration?s=t
[iii] For example, think about Christopher Williams from Pennsylvania. He was acquitted of two homicides and exonerated of four more after thirty years. https://www.inquirer.com/news/philadelphia-conviction-integrity-christopher-williams-exoneree-20210210.html?fbclid=IwAR0GwQcJevSP9fowIt6TJNGHJ3SAZezGk5mHFCP4TBSOvfLNtLUku_etLD4
[iv] Paramount Pictures. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. 1989
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