A defense strategy in a criminal case is by and large the most important aspect of the case. If a defendant's defense strategy isn't strong enough it could result in a long prison term or thousands of dollars in fines. If the strategy is well developed and thorough it could result in a lesser sentence such as community service. A criminal defense lawyer will develop a defense strategy after sifting through all of the evidence collected by the prosecution and after hearing the defendant's version of what happened during the alleged crime in question. A criminal defense lawyer will first meet with a defendant before planning out the strategies to be utilized in a court of law. A defense lawyer will also examine all of the evidence collected by the prosecution and the evidence collected from the lawyer's own investigation of the case. Each criminal defense lawyer's strategies to defend the case will be different and the strategies will mostly hinge on the answers that their client supplies to the questions they ask.
The strategy that a defense lawyer and the defendant develop should contain one or more of the following items:
There are three categories that a defendant's version of what happened during the crime can fall into:
The confession story occurs when the defendant will confess that they did steal a motor vehicle to their defense lawyer. The denial story usually occurs when the defendant completely denies the claims that the prosecution is making that they committed a motor vehicle theft. The denial story usually includes an alibi such as being out of town, at school, or at work at the time of the theft. The admit and explain story will be an admission of guilt but it includes legal differences between the prosecution and the defense. For example, the defendant might admit to taking the motor vehicle but only after the owner lent him or her the keys and said they could borrow the vehicle.
When a defense lawyer begins to build the defense strategy, they will also consider the reliability of the witnesses for the prosecution, the reliability of the defense witnesses, the community attitudes towards the crime, and the police and defendant's moral culpability. During the creation of the defense strategy, the defense lawyer will need to coach the defendant so that the defense strategy is as strong as possible. This pre-trial coaching will include interviewing the defendant to stimulate their memory, conducting interviews at the scene of the crime, and asking the defendant to write down their accounts of the crime in their own words.