Video: Using sentencing mitigation videos in criminal court

Using “day-in-the-life” videos is nothing new for civil plaintiff attorneys. These powerful tools can make a difference in negotiations. But now criminal defense attorneys are using sentencing mitigation videos in courtrooms to help their clients receive reduced sentencing in prison. The Atlantic features the video below, No Jail Time: The Movie about Doug Passon, a defense attorney turned filmmaker. The short documentary by Lance Oppenheim shows how these videos are designed to appeal to a judge’s empathy and humanize their subjects.

What to look for in a criminal defense attorney

woman attorney in courtroomWhat makes a good criminal defense attorney, and what qualities should you look for if you need to hire one? The Baltimore Post-Examiner has a list of qualifications potential clients should have in mind. It goes beyond an attorney’s win/loss record. It’s important to find the right attorney with the skills and personality that fit your particular case. Aggressiveness, integrity and experience are just a few of the important qualities people should seek. Read more in this helpful guide that can help you find the right criminal defense attorney. 

Why Representing Yourself in Criminal Court is a Bad Idea

Bad Jury Instruction Revives Hertz Wrongful Death CaseSo you’re a big fan of all those law dramas both on the big and small screens. After years of watching actors in perfectly-tailored suits argue cases for their clients in the most dramatic and thrilling fashion, you believe you’ve seen enough to know about the law and court procedures. With everything you’ve “learned” from these legal dramas, you are confident that you can ably represent yourself should you become the subject of a legal investigation or get charged with a crime.

The confidence is admirable, but representing yourself in a criminal court without the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer is a very bad idea. Here are some of the reasons why:

You don’t have extensive knowledge of the law and court procedures

Contrary to what you believe, watching legal dramas will never supply you with the legal expertise required to argue your case in court with any degree of competence. Criminal defense attorneys spend interminable years studying the law in law school and later in court. They train to become extremely familiar with all court procedures. What you see in law dramas are just that: drama. Real-life cases need a little more than that. The fact that even lawyers who are facing criminal charges hire other lawyers to represent them in court should drive that point home.

The other party will likely have a lawyer

If you’re facing a criminal charge, you will be going up against a district attorney who will naturally know more about the law compared to yourself. Things certainly wouldn’t be looking good for you.

Consider the paperwork and the rules

Any legal case, criminal or otherwise, requires a mountain of paperwork. There is also a laundry list of rules that govern the processing and the submission of these documents. One missing page or one missed deadline could spell the difference between conviction and acquittal. Criminal defense attorneys know this stuff, but you probably don’t.

Judges won’t tolerate your lack of legal knowledge

You probably know very little about the law, and it will show in court. Some judges may treat you with a little tolerance, but most judges probably won’t. And you know what will happen if you get on a judge’s bad side. In contrast, the opposing party would have a lawyer familiar with the law, legal procedures, and with the presiding judge.

There could be civil cases where self-representation somehow works, but it is incredibly rare in criminal cases. If you are charged with a crime, your best bet would not be yourself, but an experienced criminal defense attorney. To know what a good criminal defense lawyer can do for you, check out the infographic below.

Infographic provided by AZ Criminal Law Team

Why You Need A Criminal Defense Attorney

Man released from prison after being in jail for 13 years.

When you find yourself facing criminal charges, you have to get the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. After all, being charged with a crime is a serious matter. Even if you are slapped with a relatively light offense like drunk driving, you will still need an experienced DUI lawyer by your side. Without good legal representation, a conviction is more likely, and that will lead to substantial fines and possible jail time.

Unfortunately, many people don’t realize the importance and benefits of having a good criminal defense attorney defending you. Let’s list some of the reasons why you need a criminal defense lawyer if you get arrested for a crime.

Criminal defense attorneys know the law and the process

A criminal defense attorney has studied and trained to get a full understanding of every aspect of criminal law and court procedures. Whatever questions you might have about your case, you can be sure that your defense lawyer will be able to answer them. Aside from the ability to scrutinize every fact, evidence, and testimony presented in a criminal case, a criminal defense lawyer is also well-equipped to work the legal system by finding loopholes or inconsistencies that can help you with your case.

Criminal defense lawyers can protect your rights from Day 1

Keep in mind that since you’re a suspect in a crime, the police and prosecutors will naturally do what they can to pin the deed on you. Sometimes, however, your rights could get violated along the way, like not reading your Miranda rights at the time of your arrest or goading you into saying anything that could be used against you in court. But when you have a criminal defense attorney present, all of your Constitutionally-guaranteed rights will be fully protected.

Criminal defense attorneys know the people in the legal system

Criminal defense lawyers work with prosecutors and judges all the time. They know how to negotiate with prosecutors to get the best plea bargains, which is how most legal cases end. Their knowledge of the judge’s preferences, dislikes or leanings help them come up with arguments that will work. Such knowledge can only be obtained through experience, which is why getting a criminal defense attorney who has been practicing his profession for quite some time now is your best bet.

The importance of hiring a criminal defense attorney the soonest possible time can never be stated enough. And if you have more questions regarding criminal defense, check out the infographic below.

Graphic courtesy Arizona DUI Team