Preparing For Litigation In A Criminal Defense Case

It is a well-known fact that almost 90% of criminal cases do not go to trial but are generally settled with a plea deal. Most of the time, this is the prudent way to resolve a case both for the defense and the prosecution as there are massive expenses associated with litigating a case. Moreover, going to trial poses a risk for both parties involved as they are uncertain of the outcome, Litigation is an expensive and time consuming process and it ends to scare many criminal defense attorneys especially ones that do not have much experience in this regard. However, with certain cases, the only way to judiciously resolve a case is to take it to trial. Criminal defense attorneys must be thoroughly prepared for the eventuality of litigating a case at all times. Some important tips that criminal defense attorneys especially ones that don’t have much experience should consider are as follows:

Frequent The Courthouses In Your County

It is advisable to be familiar with the clerk of the court and know when the top attorneys will be at trial at the courthouse so you can go and study them. you should observe how accomplished veterans of litigation conduct themselves at trial and pick up pointers along the way. You should go through original trial transcripts as there is a lot that can be learnt from them.

Get Perspective On Your Legal Career

For an attorney that wishes to be a career prosecutor, it is advisable that they first intern for the public defender’s office. Working both sides of the table gives you a clear perspective of the inherent strengths and weaknesses present on both sides.

Read Up On Case Law And Legal Facts Pertaining To Your Case

It is quite possible that the opposing attorney has years of experience or is much more quick on his feet than you, however if you are able to out-prepare them then you have a good chance at winning your case at trial. You should thoroughly review your petitions and research the relevant clauses of law so that you know what you have to prove in order to prevail at trial. It is also advisable to review and summarize any depositions so that you know what a witness should be saying. An unprepared attorney is a hazard for their client and could be accused of legal malpractice. A criminal defense attorney should be prepared to answer every question that a judge could potentially ask them.

Focus On Continuing Legal Education

CLE or continuing legal education is an extremely useful and helpful resource that should be utilized by all practicing attorneys.  Competent attorneys always educate themselves on matters that they are not too familiar with prior to handling that case. For example if you are trying a medical malpractice claim, unless you have been coached by a doctor or a healthcare professional, it is impossible for you to grasp all the relevant intricacies of the case.

Look At Your Case From A 180 Degree Perspective

It is always essential for an attorney to be objective and view the case from their opponent’s perspective before taking a case to trial. If you have an insight into the mind of prosecution, then you can have an answer for every question that they pose to you during trial. It is also advisable to subscribe to local dailies and other news sources in order to grasp where the jury is coming from and how to present evidence to them in a favorable manner.

Prepare Your Client & Witnesses Prior To Trial

Let your client know that they have to answer all questions honestly and truthfully. However, they should only provide a brief answer to the question asked. Providing any voluntary information to a prosecutor provides fertile grounds for them to exploit later on in the case. A criminal defense attorney should start off by calling a strong favorable witness, arrange for less effective witness testimonies in the middle of the case and end the case with the most impressive witness testimony they can provide. This is a tried and tested method for success at litigation. You should also coach clients in regard to proper courtroom attire. Flashing your bling or tattoos in front of a judge or a working class jury can be highly detrimental to the outcome of your case.

Engage Credible Local Lawyers When Trying A Case Out Of Town

When trying a case in a location other than your hometown, it is wise courtroom strategy to engage the best, most credible local lawyer in that community and have them accompany you to the courtroom. Engaging that particular lawyer serves to enhance your own credibility from initial jury selection throughout the length of the trial.

Be Very Careful During The Voir Dire Or Jury Selection Process

It is important to weed out any undesirable jurors during the voir dire process that could potentially be biased against your client. Certain people can be highly prejudiced towards your client based on race, religion or creed. You should always remind jurors of their commitment to provide a fair and unbiased verdict when they go for deliberation to the jury room. If you have a gut feeling about an potential juror, one who makes you feel uncomfortable, it would be advisable to keep that person off your jury panel. 

Be Very Careful When Interacting With Jurors During Trial

It is imperative to engage the jurors in a focused conversation regarding the details of your case. You should ask the jury if they are able to hear and comprehend you because many times, the jurors get uncomfortable because they can’t hear you or a witness at trial. This may cause them to become irritable and as a consequence unreceptive towards your arguments. Be familiar enough with your case so that you don’t have to read your opening or closing arguments to a jury. The worst thing a criminal defense lawyer can do at trial is to read questions to their witnesses.

Start With A Strong Opening Statement And Finish With A Stronger Closing Statement

It is critical for a criminal defense attorney never to waive their opening statement. Many a case has been won by giving strong opening and closing statements. The prosecutor will do everything they can to portray your client in a negative light and it is up to you to counter those efforts. Judges and juries are often predisposed on the first impression you make. It is also essential to avoid making claims that you are not able to prove as it destroys your credibility with both the jurors and the judge.

It is therefore essential for lawyers to thoroughly prepare in advance for successfully litigating a criminal case successfully in order to garner the best available resolution for their client.

Author Bio:

Defend a DUI charge in Salt Lake City, UT. Call Levitt Legal, PLLC at (801) 828-2732 to speak with a Utah DUI defense lawyer if you are facing a DUI charge.


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