Judging others is usually seen as acceptable. We expect judges, juries and prosecutors to judge defendants, people charged with crimes. We also expect that their judgments will be fair and based on the evidence presented in court. Forgotten in all this talk is the fact that defense attorneys sometimes prejudge their clients as guilty.
Let’s imagine a scenario where the defendant is a middle-aged man named Tom who has no prior criminal record and has a good reputation in the community. The prosecutor charges him with inappropriately touching a young child, a felony known as child molestation. On paper, Tom seems guilty: the prosecutor has the statements of the young child who was interviewed by an experienced sex crimes detective. The reality is that the charge is completely false. Tom is frightened and confused by the whole thing. He wants to hire an attorney who will believe him and reveal the truth: he is innocent. Unfortunately, he hires a defense attorney who manages to conceal his belief that all middle-aged men charged with molesting young children are always guilty and should rot in prison. How does the attorney’s belief effect his representation of the client?
The attorney talks to Tom as little as possible. After all, who wants to talk to a guilty child molester?
The attorney does not investigate the case as thoroughly as he should. The prosecutor’s case appears strong. He does not want to determine whether or not the charge is actually true.
The attorney does not analyze the case as thoroughly as he should. That would require spending time learning all the facts.
Because he does not investigate and analyze the case thoroughly, relevant pretrial motions to dismiss the case and/or suppress evidence do not get prepared and filed.
The attorney does not effectively negotiate if a plea is offered. The presumptive sentence of 17 years in prison as dictated by A.R.S. § 13-705(D) is fine with him.
If Tom insists on a trial, the attorney puts in the least amount of effort possible. He does not want to help a guilty client escape punishment. Because of his attitude, important issues for appeal are not raised at the trial where they could actually make a difference in the trial outcome.
Unsurprisingly, Tom is found guilty. The attorney once again puts forth little effort at Tom’s sentencing hearing so he does not receive the minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. Tom is sentenced to 17 years in prison.
Because of the attorney’s poor performance at trial, Tom’s appeal, if there is one, is unsuccessful because all the appeal issues should have been raised at the trial for the trial judge to handle.
Don’t make the mistake of hiring a judgmental criminal defense attorney. Attorney Gary Rohlwing is an experienced attorney who will not judge you even if you are charged with a sex crime against a child. Please call him today for a free consultation.