Virtually All Criminal Defense Lawyers Get Asked This Question: How Can You Represent People That You Know Are Guilty?
The typical answers are: everyone deserves a proper defense, innocent until proven guilty, the Constitution requires it, and police prosecutors need checks and balances and the like. All valid, but I don’t need to go that deep into it as the majority of my criminal defendants are ordinary people that screw up occasionally. Sometimes they are troubled by alcohol or drug addiction, relationship problems, mental illness or have poor impulse control and the like. Most of my clients are good people who have made some poor choices. That works well for me. I choose to leave the evil in the world to my colleagues.
My most serious criminal case many years ago was an ugly first degree rape and in the end the judge gave my client (20) twenty years like he was handing out Halloween candy. I hated everything about the case. Similarly, I am not interested in handling sex offense cases or the cases where grandmom gets pistol whipped. The good news is that I can choose.
It is very rewarding to navigate people out of the criminal justice system before they become a burden on it, to themselves and to their family and friends. Again, to me it is all about representing otherwise good people who need help. Guilt often has little to with it and often it is more about damage control and helping your client get back on track. If this is what you are looking for in a lawyer, give me a call 410-869-3400.
When You Are Facing Criminal Charges
If you are under police investigation or if you have been arrested or charged with a crime, you must resist every temptation to talk to the police, prosecutor and victim.
Often, there is the likelihood that your statements will not even be remembered accurately, and worse yet, they may be intentionally misconstrued.
If you explain what happened to family or friends, those people can be brought to court and forced to repeat your statements at your trial.
In some situations, a police officer may tell you that if you cooperate without contacting a lawyer, things will go easier for you. Do not fall for it. This is one of the oldest tricks in the books and will not end well for you. Again, do not speak without a lawyer present.
Don’t be an idiot. (I feel strongly about this!) If you say nothing, the worse that can happen is that you will be held for 24 hours before seeing a commissioner or having a bail review hearing, if there is enough probable cause to even hold you.
Do Not Make Decisions Without A Lawyer
Without a lawyer, you have absolutely no guarantee that your honest attempt to cooperate will do anything other than take away your freedom.
Without a lawyer, you may have no written agreement with the police. Even if you do get something in writing, without a lawyer you have no way of knowing whether the written document fully protects you.
Perhaps most importantly, without a lawyer, you have no way of knowing whether the police have enough admissible evidence to convict you.
In other words, without a lawyer you are in a very weak negotiating position. Without a lawyer you have too little information to make an informed and intelligent decision, and you may be placing yourself at serious risk.
Do Not Confess
You should not confess, make statements about the case to the police or prosecutor or anyone without the assistance of an attorney.
When you are asked to make statements or decisions without an attorney you should politely decline to do so. Instead, tell the officer or prosecutor that you would like to consult with an attorney before making a decision or saying anything about anything.
If you have already made statements about your case to the police or prosecutor without the help of a lawyer, you should consult with a lawyer now in order to minimize your risks.
What Happens If I Am Arrested?
If you are arrested and held on criminal charges in Maryland, you will be taken before a commissioner to address the issue of bail.
If you are not released on your own recognizance or cannot make bail you will be taken for a bail review hearing, before a Judge, by the following day (excluding weekends). You will be read and/or provided a form and requested to sign a form acknowledging that you have heard and understand some very important rights.
Those brought before the court will often come into court handcuffed together. Before the individual bail cases are reviewed by a Judge, the accused will be addressed as a group and advised of the following:
- Your Bail Review is not your trial but is a hearing to determine whether the bail that has been set in your case ought to be changed or whether you ought to be released on your own recognizance under conditions set by the court.
- You should have received a statement of charges. If you have not received your charging documents, tell the Pretrial Representative or the Bail Review Judge.
- If you are charged with a felony that cannot be heard in the District Court, you have the right to a preliminary hearing. Before there can be a Preliminary Hearing, you or your attorney must request the hearing. (This should always be done!)
- If you fail to ask for a Preliminary Hearing within 10 days, you will have given up that right.
- If you choose to have a Preliminary Hearing, the State must show that there is Probable Cause to believe that you have committed that felony.
- You will not be able to testify or call witnesses to testify for you, but you or your attorney will be able to ask questions of the State’s witnesses to learn what evidence the State has against you.
- If probable cause is found, your case will be moved to the Circuit Court.
- If Probable Cause is not found, the felony charge will be dismissed.
If you are charged with a crime for which the maximum period of incarceration is more than 90 days, you have a right to a jury trial in the Circuit Court. A jury is composed of 12 persons picked from the motor vehicle and voter rolls of the County or City where the crime was alleged to have been committed. All 12 jurors must find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, in order for you to be found guilty.
You also have a right to a court trial where a judge will determine whether you are guilty or not guilty. The standard of proof in a court trial is also beyond a reasonable doubt.
Perhaps your most important right is the right to have a lawyer represent you. If you cannot afford to hire a private lawyer, the Public Defender’s Office may provide a lawyer to represent you at no cost or a nominal cost if you qualify for their services.
Notice to Parents of Minor Children
Pursant to the Annotated Code of Maryland, Title II, Subtitle 6 of the Criminal Procedure article and courts and Judicial Proceedings section 3-8A-28, you may be jointly and severally liable for damages up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) resulting from each delinquent act of your child. At any stage of the proceeding, contemporaneously with the adjudicatory hearing or as a judgment in the amount determined by the court not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) for each delinquent act. You have the right to have a lawyer represent you. Call Mike the Lawyer today to discuss your options. 410-869-3900 or via email