how to defend a killer as a criminal lawyer

by Miss Alanna Boyle DVM 5 min read

Although the details will vary considerably, there are some basic defense strategies that a criminal defense attorney might use when defending you on a murder charge, including:

  • It was self-defense – this is referred to as using an “affirmative defense.” It basically admits that you did kill the...
  • He/she didn’t mean to – this defense argues the lack of “mens rea.” Mens...

Full Answer

How can a criminal defense lawyer defend someone who they think is guilty?

How can a criminal defense lawyer defend someone who they think is guilty? The answer is two-fold. First, there is a difference between "legal guilt" and "factual guilt." Second, lawyers have a legal responsibility to their clients that they must uphold.

Can lawyers counsel you on the best way to commit a crime?

It is legally and morally forbidden for lawyers to counsel anyone on the best way to commit a crime, but that doesn’t stop people from asking anyway. "I get it a lot, even today," Lichtman says. "'If I do this, is this OK?'"

How do you defend a criminal case?

How To Defend A Criminal Case 1 BY EXAMINING THE EVIDENCE. Evidence in a criminal case is critical. ... 2 OR DEFENSE OF ANOTHER. Everyone has the right to defend themselves. ... 3 BY LACK OF CRIMINAL INTENT. The law says that to be guilty of a crime a person must have criminal intent to do so. ... 4 MISTAKE OF FACT. ...

How does an Advocate defend a murderer?

Mostly the Advocate defending a murderer only raises a doubt as to the guilt of a person by challenging the witnesses of the prosecution, the medical evidence and the circumstances. The conclusion of a police investigation is the ‘charge sheet.’ The prosecution builds their case on this.

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What are the four major criminal law defenses?

When it comes to criminal cases, there are usually four major criminal defense strategies that criminal attorneys employ: innocence, constitutional violations, self-defense, and insanity.

Can lawyers choose who they defend?

Hiring a criminal defense attorney should be one of the first actions you take when accused of a crime in California. Every person has the right to legal counsel, allowing you to choose your own criminal defense attorney if you desire.

Do criminal defense lawyers know the truth?

Truthfully, a defense lawyer almost never really knows whether the defendant is guilty or not of the charged crime. Even if he says he is guilty, he actually may not be and may be lying to take the fall for someone he wants to protect.

How do you defend someone you know is guilty?

1:173:25My answer to "how do you defend someone you think is guilty"YouTubeStart of suggested clipEnd of suggested clipSmith calm down don't worry if you want a defense you know I'll defend you as long as anybody orMoreSmith calm down don't worry if you want a defense you know I'll defend you as long as anybody or whatever it was.

Do lawyers lie?

The American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct states that a lawyer “shall not knowingly make a false statement of material fact.” In other words, lawyers aren't supposed to lie--and they can be disciplined or even disbarred for doing so.

What if a lawyer knows his client is lying?

(3) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. If a lawyer, the lawyer's client, or a witness called by the lawyer, has offered material evidence and the lawyer comes to know of its falsity, the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, disclosure to the tribunal.

Can a lawyer snitch on you?

The attorney-client privilege is a rule that protects the confidentiality of communications between lawyers and clients. Under the rule, attorneys may not divulge their clients' secrets, nor may others force them to.

What happens if a lawyer loses a case?

If the attorney loses the case, the client is still responsible for legal fees as stipulated in the original retainer contract. Some attorneys may agree to withhold billing until the end of a case, but they will still expect payment regardless of how the case ends.

What should you not say to a lawyer?

Five things not to say to a lawyer (if you want them to take you..."The Judge is biased against me" Is it possible that the Judge is "biased" against you? ... "Everyone is out to get me" ... "It's the principle that counts" ... "I don't have the money to pay you" ... Waiting until after the fact.

Can you tell a lawyer the truth?

It's almost always advisable to tell your lawyer the whole truth about your case, even if you've committed a crime. Giving your lawyer all the facts helps them craft the best defense by raising reasonable doubt. Even when a client admits guilt, there are usually many mitigating circumstances that can come into play.

What type of lawyer makes the most money?

Some of the highest-paid lawyers are:Medical Lawyers – Average $138,431. Medical lawyers make one of the highest median wages in the legal field. ... Intellectual Property Attorneys – Average $128,913. ... Trial Attorneys – Average $97,158. ... Tax Attorneys – Average $101,204. ... Corporate Lawyers – $116,361.

Do lawyers know if their client is guilty?

So, the truth is, unless we were present when the crime was committed, or unless the client openly confesses the crime to us, we do not know if they are guilty or innocent. Even when all of the evidence points to the guilt of a client, they are still entitled to a fair trial and that is what we help to enforce.

Why do criminal defense lawyers go above and beyond?

This is why criminal defense lawyers go above and beyond to prove their client is innocent; they don’t care about your actual guilt or innocence, because it’s not their job. They are there to preserve the integrity of the system and keep it honest, and it’s their duty to present a fair case.

Why don't lawyers ask if a client committed a crime?

You will never find a lawyer asking their client whether or not they committed the crime because it’s not their job to do so. Even if the defendant admitted guilt, they might be protecting someone, or they might be accused of something far less than they’re being charged with. This is why a fair and solid defense is needed, and it will always be a defense attorney’s job to provide it.

Why do lawyers defend their clients?

Protecting the rule of law is perhaps the main reason why lawyers defend their clients, no matter what. If those attorneys didn’t do that, it would be up to the police to determine the guilt of a person. They’d basically be judge, jury, and executioner because all their evidence will be accepted and admissible. But when lawyers go above and beyond to defend their clients, it becomes up to an actual judge and citizens to determine if the defendant is guilty or not. It is left to impartial parties to decide if that person did, in fact, commit the crime they are accused of, and that ensures that justice and law prevail in society.

Why are lawyers called judges, jury, and executioners?

They’d basically be judge, jury, and executioner because all their evidence will be accepted and admissible . But when lawyers go above and beyond to defend their clients, it becomes up to an actual judge and citizens to determine if the defendant is guilty or not.

What is the job of a defense attorney?

That job is assigned to the prosecution, who is charged with doing everything within their capabilities –– and within the boundaries of the law –– to prove a defendant is guilty.

Why is it left to impartial parties to decide if a person committed a crime?

It is left to impartial parties to decide if that person did, in fact, commit the crime they are accused of, and that ensures that justice and law prevail in society. You will never find a lawyer asking their client whether or not they committed the crime because it’s not their job to do so.

What is the job of a criminal defense lawyer?

The job of a criminal defense lawyer is to defend you against the charges that are presented. When charges are brought, there only has to be "probable cause" that you might have committed the crime. At trial, the prosecuting lawyer's job is to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that you've committed the crime for which you're being charged.

Why is it important to find a criminal lawyer?

A lawyer's job is not to know or decide guilt. The real issue is number two: can the lawyer defend you properly? This is because a lawyer's true duty is to provide you with vigorous defense for the crime of which you're being accused. For this reason, the most important thing when seeking criminal defense counsel is to find a lawyer who takes their legal responsibility seriously, and will do all they can to mount a thorough defense in your favor.

Why do lawyers defend people?

Another reason that lawyers can defend people regardless of guilt is that our society gives each citizen the right to be vigorously defended in a court of law. The U.S. Constitution assures every citizen due process and the right to legal counsel. Lawyers are bound to deliver this legal right to their clients.

What is the duty of a lawyer?

According to Canon 7 in the ABA's Model Code of Responsibility, a defense lawyer's duty to his client is to "represent his client zealously within the bounds of the law" because of his inclusion in a profession whose goal is to " (assist) members of the public to secure and protect available legal rights and benefits."

What is the difference between legal guilt and factual guilt?

First, there is a difference between "legal guilt" and "factual guilt.". Second, lawyers have a legal responsibility to their clients that they must uphold.

Why don't criminal defense lawyers ask if you are guilty?

The reason most criminal defense lawyers won't ask you if you're actually "guilty" is that it's not relevant to the case. Also, it's not their job to find out. Their job is to defend you, and put up a fair case. As one attorney put it, their job is to "keep the system honest.".

What does "putting the burden of proof upon the prosecution" mean?

Putting the burden of proof upon the prosecution means the point of trial is all about either proving or failing to prove that you're guilty of the crime that's been charged - not knowing whether or not you're actually guilty.

What does a defense attorney do when the accused has no criminal intent?

The defense attorney, with the help of his client and other witnesses, may prove that the accused had no criminal intention of breaking the law.

What is the law that says a person must have criminal intent to commit a crime?

The law says that to be guilty of a crime a person must have criminal intent to do so. Penal Code section 26 states generally that a person may not be guilty of committing a crime when he or she commits an act under a mistake of fact disproving any criminal intent.

What happens if a client is accused of a violation of a constitutional right?

If there is an alleged violation of a constitutional right, a petition can be filed in court on behalf of the client to challenge the unlawful acts of the police, resulting in the possibility that the case may be dismissed or the criminal charges reduced. Witnesses.

What is the credibility of a witness?

The credibility of a witness, including prior arrests or convictions, might prove that the witness should not be believed. Lack of witness credibility, and lack of independent witness corroboration, are crucial factors that may disprove the prosecution case and lead to a dismissal or reduction in the original criminal charges.

Why is it important to know the time, place, and probable cause for the police to detain a?

Detention and Arrest. The time, place, and probable cause for the police to detain a person, search him or her, and make an arrest are very important. This information helps the defense lawyer determine whether there may have been a violation of the client’s constitutional rights to remain free from an unlawful search and seizure according the ...

Why is witness identification faulty?

Witness identification has been shown to be faulty when it comes about as a result of police incorrectly showing a witness “mug shots” or a “six pack” of photos of potential suspects that are unfairly suggestive.

Why is inconsistent witness testimony helpful?

Witness statements that are inconsistent with each other is helpful because they may show that there is no clear version of what allegedly happened. Problems with witness credibility may cast reasonable doubt on the validity of the criminal charges, thus leading to a dismissal or reduction of the criminal charges.

What happens if you tell your lawyer you are guilty?

Even if you tell your attorney that you are guilty as charged, he/she is still able to defend you. It is the burden of the state to prove that you are guilty of crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. If the state does not meet its burden, then you should be found not guilty, even if you in fact committed the crimes in question. Therefore, even if your lawyer knows with 100% certainty that you are guilty, that does nothing to change the fact that the state is responsible for proving your guilt, and your lawyer is still responsible for making the state work to prove its case. What if evidence was illegally seized? What if the state's theory of the case makes no sense? What if the witnesses against you are all known liars? All of this could affect the state's ability to make its case, and it is your lawyer's responsibility to point all of this out.

Why do judges demand a criminal defense case?

The judges and prosecutors not only expect it, but demand it, because that is the only way to insure that the case doesn’t come back for re-trial after an appeal or motion for post-conviction relief. Also, because they believe in our criminal justice system and Constitution. They know this is the only way that it can work so that everyone gets a fair trial.

What is the conclusion of a police investigation?

The conclusion of a police investigation is the ‘charge sheet.’. The prosecution builds their case on this.

Why does a murder case fail?

The case will fail if the state could not present sufficient evidence linking the person to the murder. Mostly the Advocate defending a murderer only raises a doubt as to the guilt of a person by challenging the witnesses of the prosecution, the medical evidence and the circumstances.

What is the burden of proof in a murder case?

In criminal cases, it is the duty of the prosecution or the state to prove beyond doubt that a murder has been committed. This is called the ‘burden of proof.’ The accused has no burden to prove his innocence and therefore, in most cases an Advocate defending a murderer need not present any evidence leave alone false evidence. Only if there is a defence, lets say like alibi, would the defence need to present evidence.

What is an advocate?

An Advocate, apart from being duty bound to accept the brief of a murderer, is also duty bound to uphold the interest of his client. Any communication between a client and an Advocate is covered by privilege. A lawyer cannot disclose what his client told him and no court or police officer can ask an Advocate to disclose a communication made by his client.

What is the law that advocates are bound by?

Advocates are bound by rules of the Bar Council which obliges them to represent clients who approach them. This flows out of the natural justice principle, that no person shall be condemned unheard. If the accused cannot afford a lawyer, the state will provide a lawyer.

Why do attorneys have to prove someone guilty?

And an attorney has to make it as legally difficult as possible for the prosecution to prove someone guilty, just to make sure that the guilt they prove is real and beyond any doubt.

What happens if your lawyer doesn't defend you?

And if your lawyer doesn’t defend you, you’re likely going to be as good as over, facing the lynch mob. And no, you won’t be able to defend yourself and your innocence, you’ll be in all sorts of shock, you will have issues to deal with and no one to help. And that’s when you’d simply crack under the pressure and be forever thankful that there are attorneys willing to take your case.

Why are lawyers there?

The lawyer is there is vouch that the accused is punished as per the act of crime committed by him and to no further extent ie. on any additional count of crime which he has not committed. Lawyers are there to defend horrible people (ie. murderers, rapists etc.) as they have a right to justice.

What happens if a client is guilty of a crime?

Even if it ultimately turns out that the client is “guilty”, they are a) entitled to legal representation, and b) entitled to the full protection of the law. Just like everyone else. There isn’t one set of laws for most of us and another set for those accused of heinous crimes.

Why would a narcissist be a good lawyer?

Logically speaking narcissist would make great lawyer because they don't mind hurting other people. They don't mind if their clients are lying or if they are lying about a case. They don't mind saying whatever they need to say or hurting whoever they need to hurt. Their objective is winning.

What is the duty of a lawyer?

The duty of lawyers is to ensure that justice is discharged as per the case in hand and the crime committed .

Why is attorney-client privilege broad?

Attorney-client privilege is broad, because our justice system is based on clients being able to have open and frank communications with their attorneys.

Why is the defendant lying?

Just because the defendant says he did it doesn’t make it so. The defendant may be lying to take the rap for someone he wants to protect, or may be guilty, but guilty of a different and lesser crime than the one being prosecuted by the district attorney.

What does it mean to be a guilty client?

Defendant a guilty client may mean committing professional suicide. Criminal defense attorneys may vigorously defend guilty clients, but as a couple of examples make clear, they risk committing professional suicide by doing so.

Can a prosecutor prove guilt?

Yes. The key is the difference between factual guilt (what the defendant did) and legal guilt (what a prosecutor can prove). A good criminal defense lawyer asks not, “What did my client do?” but rather, “ What can the government prove? ” No matter what the defendant has done, he is not legally guilty until a prosecutor offers enough evidence to persuade a judge or jury to convict. However, the defense lawyer may not lie to the judge or jury by specifically stating that the defendant did not do something the lawyer knows the defendant did do. Rather the lawyer’s trial tactics and arguments focus on the government’s failure to prove all the elements of the crime.

Who was the British barrister who defended Courvoisier?

Way back in 1840, Charles Phillips, one of the finest British barristers of his era, defended Benjamin Courvoisier against a charge that Courvoisier brutally murdered his employer, wealthy man-about-town Lord Russell. Courvoisier privately confessed to Phillips that he was guilty.

Do defense lawyers ask if they committed a crime?

For these reasons, among others, many defense lawyers never ask their clients if they committed the crime. Instead, the lawyer uses the facts to put on the best defense possible and leaves the question of guilt to the judge or jury.

Who said "I'd give the Devil the benefit of law for mine own safety's sake"?

Perhaps no one has ever put the duty as eloquently as Henry VIII’s soon-to-be-beheaded ex-Chancellor Sir Thomas More, who, before going to the scaffold, insisted, “I’d give the devil the benefit of law, for mine own safety’s sake.”.

Did Feldman know that Westerfield was guilty?

Feldman knew privately that Westerfield was guilty. Nevertheless, at trial Feldman aggressively attacked Danielle’s parents. He offered evidence that they frequently invited strangers into their home for sex orgies, and suggested that one of the strangers could have been the killer.

How to deal with a criminal case?

Negotiate with experienced (and inexperienced) prosecutors. Many criminal cases are resolved through plea bargains. In a plea bargain, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a better sentence. If a plea bargain is a possibility for your particular case, a criminal defense lawyer will know how to deal with your local prosecutors, including when to hold out for a better deal and when to advise you to take what's on the table.

What is discovery in court?

What is discovery? As its name suggests, it's the legal mechanism for gathering evidence that may help exonerate you or refute the prosecution's evidence. Documents, surveillance video, written statements, and oral testimony can all be gathered using various discovery tools such as depositions, subpoenas, and interrogatories.

Can a criminal defense attorney clean up a conviction?

But keep in mind, this may not be possible in every situation.

What is the job of a criminal defense attorney?

Criminal defense attorneys, who stand beside clients accused of everything from minor offenses to mass murder, must mount the most effective defense of their client possible no matter how heinous the crime. While their work enforces a person’s constitutional right to a fair trial, some observers chastise them for representing society's villains.

Why do criminal defense lawyers choose that legal subspecialty?

Ask a criminal defense lawyer why they chose that legal subspecialty and the most common answer is that nothing gets their blood going more than a case with high stakes. “Cases move faster and they’re just more interesting than civil cases,” Gates says. “There’s nothing worse than an extended conversation about Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code. It’s just more interesting to talk about a bank robbery.”

What does Lichtman do in court?

Once in court, Lichtman focuses on finding the one person in the box of 12 to connect with. “I look up the backgrounds of jurors,” he says. “I’m looking for anything in the background I can exploit in order to tailor my summation to something that’s happened in their lives.”

What does it mean to keep tabs on a jury?

THEY'RE ALWAYS WATCHING THE JURY'S BODY LANGUAGE. Keeping tabs on a jury means being able to assess which direction they’re leaning. Lichtman says body language can tell him a lot. “You can feel how a trial is going,” he says. Jurors who laugh or smile at his jokes are on his side.

Why do criminal defense attorneys chastise?

While their work enforces a person’s constitutional right to a fair trial, some observers chastise them for representing society's villains. In their view, that’s missing the point. In addition to making sure the scales of justice are balanced, criminal defense attorneys find satisfaction in tackling cases with high stakes.

Who is the lawyer for Timothy McVeigh?

To get a better understanding of this often emotionally draining work, Mental Floss spoke with three high-profile defense lawyers. In addition to Lichtman, we talked to Chris Tritico—the subject of the first episode of Oxygen’s In Defense Of docuseries premiering June 25, and who represented Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in 1997—as well as Bryan Gates, practicing in North Carolina. Here’s what they shared about life as a devil’s advocate.

Is it easier to defend an innocent client?

It might seem like an innocent client would be easier to defend. But according to Gates, having a strong belief that a client is falsely accused creates additional strain on the defense. “It’s very stressful because you’re really identifying with the person,” he says.

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Developing The Strengths and Weaknesses of The Case

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The first part of a successful defense requires extensive meetings with the client to understand everything that happened to cause the client to be investigated, detained, and arrested. It is also important to learn about the clients present status including employment, education, special training, experience, health and standin…
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by Examining The Evidence

  • Evidence in a criminal case is critical. Without the right evidence, there can be no successful prosecution. Evidence may take many different forms that include the following. 1. Photographs of injuries, accident scenes, damaged property 2. Police officer body camera recordings 3. Patrol car video recordings (CHP) 4. Surveillance video recordings 5. Fingerprints of an alleged burglar …
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Because of Weak Or Faulty Witness Identification

  • A witness may mistakenly identify the wrong person as the defendant in many instances. Statistics and expert witnesses have shown time and again that many witness identifications are highly likely to be mistaken. This is particularly true where the witness was under extreme pressure while observing a crime, even worse when the person is the victim of the crime. Lightin…
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Or Defense of Another

  • Everyone has the right to defend themselves. In fact there are laws and jury instructions that state a person has the right to make a stand and to use force against an attacker. This is particularly true when defending yourself or your property. A person may not be guilty of a crime if he or she used force against another person in lawful self defense or defense of another. A person acts in …
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by Lack of Criminal Intent

  • The law says that to be guilty of a crime a person must have criminal intent to do so. Penal Code section 26 states generally that a person may not be guilty of committing a crime when he or she commits an act under a mistake of fact disproving any criminal intent. The defense attorney, with the help of his client and other witnesses, may prove that the accused had no criminal intention …
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Mistake of Fact

  • Penal Code section 26 states generally that a person makes a mistake of fact may not be guilty of the alleged crime because he or she had no criminal intent. Some examples of the mistake of fact defense are illustrated below. For example a mistake of fact may apply to the alleged crime of statutory rape in violation of Penal Code 261.5, also known as “having unlawful sexual intercour…
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