Monday, April 5, 2010

Do Innocent Defendants Need a Criminal Lawyer?

"But he is innocent. Does he really need a criminal lawyer?" Can you guess my response to this recent question from a client's parent?
"YES," I quickly replied. Arguably, an innocent person needs a good, experienced criminal lawyer even more than a guilty one! And I am not just saying that simply because I am a criminal defense attorney! (After all, please also consider the fact that, as a former federal prosecutor for over 20 years, I have experienced our criminal justice system and seen all its flaws from different perspectives).
Admittedly, our criminal justice system works well, at least most of the time. In other words, in most cases, an innocent person will likely be found not guilty by a judge or jury. But no system involving human beings is, (or ever can be), perfect. Mistakes do occur. Indeed, the Innocence Project has an incredible track record of clearing, through DNA analysis, well over 200 innocent, but convicted, defendants. I have also read other criminal conviction statistics, (concerning percentages of defendants who were wrongly convicted), which suggest that anywhere between .023% and .09% of innocent defendants are convicted.
But these are just numbers. You and your loved ones are real people. So, in my opinion, even if the odds are in your favor, if you face criminal charges, you should always retain the most experienced criminal lawyer you can afford! After all, your life and freedom may depend upon it!

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