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Successful Criminal Defense. The Real Audience

   Successful Criminal Defense: Recognizing the real audience.

  Criminal Defenses lawyers love trying cases. But we learn early that in 9 times out of 10 the person we really have to convince is not a judge or jury, but the person on the other side: the DA, US Attorney or City Attorney who is charge with prosecuting the case. Why? Because that is how 9 out of 10 cases resolve.

  Some criminal cases have to go to trial. The parties are too far apart or justice cannot be achieved any other way. But that's the small percentage. Most cases settle. Why? Because given the stakes. most defendants in criminal cases don't want to roll the incur the costs and take the risks that come with trying the case to a court or jury. And the prosecutors are not looking for one more case to try.

   In those cases we know who the real audience for the successful criminal defense lawyer is usually the prosecutor.  In Los Angeles, that usually means the Los Angeles City Attorney for misdemeanors or the Los Angeles District Attorney's office in felony cases. Educating the prosecutors to why the client is entitled to a favorable disposition is often Job One.

   Achieving that  involves two things:

1. Demonstrating the holes in the State's case.

2. Humanizing the Defendant. 

    That is not as easy as it sounds. The problem?   While prosecutors are usually highly competent, they each usually have dozens of cases on their docket at the same time, leaving very little time to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of any particular case before trial.  That is especially true in Los Angeles County and Ventura County where prosecutors have extremely heavy calendars.  

    That makes it our job to do that analysis for the prosecutor. There are several opportunities to do just that.

1. After the defendant is arraigned, you set a pretrial conference, in which you can sit down with the prosecutor, explain who your client is, point out the evidence and on his side of the case, and lay the foundation for making a favorable disposition.

2. Sometimes it takes more than a single setting conference. Most prosecutors have heard glib claims before and are understandably skeptical. They need to be convinced, and sometimes it takes more than one short conversation with defense counsel to do that.

3. Sometimes, when the facts are little complicated, a good criminal defense lawyer may write a letter concisely laying out the facts and the law in a way that prosecutors rarely have the opportunity to do before trial.

3.  In felony cases, the opportunity to cross-examine prosecution witnesses at the Preliminary Hearing to expose the weakness of the prosecution's case and humanize the Defendant can be an important tool

     The problem is NOT that the prosecutors lack the competence to do their own analysis. Far from it! What they lack is time to do that early on. The pressure of cases nearing trial is too great. Indeed, that is the reason why many defendants who can find a way to do so retain private defense attorneys rather than relying on a public defenders.

      Don't get me wrong. Most public defenders are also highly competent. But they too have heavy caseloads that do not give them the luxury of getting to know the defendant and the considerations that favor him early on. That is a big part of what private criminal defense attorneys do.  Contact us at www.Chodos & if you need any further information.

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Chodos & Associates
1880 Century Park East
Suite 615
Los Angeles, CA 90067

Toll Free: 866-986-7255
Phone: 310-598-3405
Fax: 310-203-3866
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