When the authorities accuse an individual of a crime, the full resources of the state are available in prosecuting that individual. A criminal lawyer often is the only means to prevent the state from overwhelming the accused with its unlimited resources.
The following describes some of the ways a criminal defense lawyer can respond to the allegations made against an accused.
A criminal defense lawyer will investigate the initial encounter between the accused and law enforcement--whether the encounter was a motor vehicle stop or a warrantless arrest or something different. If the initial encounter was premature or otherwise improper, it may be possible to disqualify any evidence law enforcement obtained during the encounter. If evidence is disqualified, it may not be used against an accused.
A criminal defense lawyer will evaluate all statements of the accused that law enforcement seeks to use against the accused. An accused is entitled to be free from overbearing or duplicity when speaking with the authorities.
A criminal defense lawyer will ensure that all evidence the authorities seek to use against the accused was properly obtained and properly preserved--particularly (though not exclusively) evidence that was obtained without a search warrant. Even evidence obtained with a search warrant frequently can be challenged for overreaching on the part of law enforcement.
If necessary, a criminal defense lawyer will seek release on bail or otherwise seek a speedy determination of the charges against an accused--to minimize the time an accused is deprived of his or her liberty.
If a criminal case proceeds to trial, at trial a criminal defense lawyer will make sure that the evidence used against the accused is proper under law. The lawyer will make sure that evidence is limited to those matters before the court--to avoid prejudice to the accused and to avoid confusing a jury. The lawyer will bring to the attention of the judge matters a judge might overlook or misconstrue.
A criminal defense lawyer will question witnesses testifying against the accused. The lawyer will reveal any bias of a witness and any failings in the witness’ testimony. A lawyer will challenge the opinions of experts for the authorities and may present experts to explain why an expert testifying for the authorities should not be credited.
Perhaps most important, a criminal defense lawyer will make a jury aware of the accused’s “side of the story,” presenting witnesses and information contrary to the state’s accusations, sometimes emphasizing that an accused cannot be found guilty unless a unanimous jury is convicted beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty that the accused has committed a crime.
A criminal prosecution is a complex matter. A criminal defense lawyer will evaluate the many aspects of a criminal prosecution, including what is required to constitute the crime(s) alleged, the procedural requirements of the police investigation and subsequent in-court criminal prosecution, the merits of the evidence sought to be used against an accused, and the availability and merits of evidence favorable to the accused, and ultimately present the best case for the acquittal of the accused.