August 16, 2018
I’ve been doing this job for nearly 12 years now and I can tell you without hesitation that the overwhelming majority of people have absolutely no idea.
Clients either think they have no role in their defense and the attorney does everything, or, alternatively, that the attorney is merely the puppet of the client and must do anything and everything the client says. Fortunately for both sides, both scenarios are wrong.
When you hire an attorney, specifically a criminal defense attorney, you are giving that attorney very extensive decision-making authority over how to handle your case. But the client still (and always) retains the right to make what are called “fundamental decisions” concerning the case, such as whether to plead guilty, whether to waive a jury trial, whether to testify in your own behalf or whether to take an appeal.
For the most part, however, everything else is considered a “strategic decision” which is left up to the judgment and discretion of the attorney. And absent a subsequent showing of ineffective assistance of counsel those decisions are considered the final word. Strategic decisions basically dictate how the case will be defended pre-trial, at trial, and in most cases what defense to use. They literally frame the entire case and arguably have the biggest impact on how the case turns out.
For that reason, it’s critical that you ask yourself before hiring any criminal defense attorney if you trust that attorney with that much authority over your case and ultimately your life. Not always an easy question to answer. If the answer is “no”, or even “maybe”, keep looking.
There are unfortunately a lot of attorneys out there who either a) don’t understand that decision-making dynamic, or b) just don’t care and make whatever decision they believe is right, regardless of the client’s wishes or input. And that’s just not right, ethically, morally or professionally.
Don’t get me wrong, we all want to win. But every client still deserves to have a voice in their case. Yes, there will always be times when the attorney and client are at odds as to how best to proceed with a certain issue. If it’s an issue involving a “fundamental decision” then the client’s position MUST control. If it’s a “strategic decision” then the attorney has the right to do what he or she believes is best for the case.
But at Carpenter Law, every significant decision – fundamental or strategic – is always made with the informed input from the client after a thorough discussion of all aspects of that decision.
Criminal defense work, even when it involves the lowest level misdemeanor, is too important to leave every decision to an attorney who isn’t fighting for his or her life, or to a client who actually is, and may be making those decisions based entirely on emotion. Successful criminal defense requires a team approach, a personalized representation tailored to each and every individual client where the attorney and client both know they did everything they could, together, to win that acquittal or secure the best possible resolution. That’s the goal at Carpenter Law. Every case. Every time.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense and believe Carpenter Law is the right firm for you, call(845) 493-1002 today to schedule a free consultation.