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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Criminal Defense > Setting Reasonable Expectations for Success When Defending Against Criminal Charges

Setting Reasonable Expectations for Success When Defending Against Criminal Charges

Plenty of perfectly innocent people have been charged, tried and convicted of crimes in America. This underscores just how important it is to hire the very best criminal defense team available. Your freedom is worth it.

A national organization devoted to ensuring innocent people are not punished for crimes they did not commit, simply called the Innocence Project, currently reports that 337 individuals have been exonerated of their crimes by DNA evidence alone. So, it is no wonder many accused defendants are terrified at the prospect of getting a bad sentence for something they did not even do.

Clearly there is more to winning your case than being innocent. But what should you expect when defending against charges? What are your expectations of the justice system and your attorney? What can you do to ensure the best chance of success? These are important questions to consider as you begin the challenging process of proving your innocence.

What should you do when defending against criminal charges?

The first thing every accused person should do is remain quiet. Whether you realize it or not, there is a lot of logic and analysis that went into those words: “you have the right to remain silent.” Look closely and you will notice the warning says nothing about you being required to remain silent. No, it is a choice. But this little warning, known as your Miranda Rights, comes from the 1966 Supreme Court decision, Miranda v. Arizona, which forever changed how police officers could arrest people.

Prior to Miranda, the police could arrest you, hold you for hours on end, interrogate you endlessly, and finally get the confession they wanted. Unfortunately, many defendants did not understand that the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteed them the right to the “assistance of counsel for their defense,” as clearly provided in the text of the amendment. Therefore, they often confessed to crimes they did not commit or made statements that were later twisted and used against them. The Supreme Court now requires that the police offer this warning to ensure defendants understand that they have the right at any time to stop the process and demand an attorney.

What are your expectations of the justice system?

Plenty of people talk about the criminal justice system as though it is evil or somehow created to lock up innocent people. But this really misconstrues the institution. The justice system is in place to ensure a mechanism for protecting society, punishing wrongdoers, and offering a sense of justice for those who are wronged. These three goals are often at odds with each other. However, at no time is it the judge or prosecutor’s job to be fair or look out for a defendant. While a prosecutor cannot bring false charges without risking his or her career, ultimately that person’s job is to get convictions. It is your attorney’s job to poke holes in the state’s case and make sure they play by the rules. When they don’t, a skilled attorney will look for ways to get the case dismissed or the charges lessened.

One common misconception is that a defense attorney’s job is to “get the defendant off the hook” or help him “get away with it.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, a defense attorney’s job is not about avoiding all punishment, although such results do happen when prosecutors overstep or make critical errors. But really, your attorney’s job is to make sure that if you must be punished, it is based on the results of a fair, balanced, and legally sound process. The object is to level the playing field and ensure the defendant is not unduly punished or falsely punished for the wrong crime. While every defense attorney wants to see his client walk free, the bigger goal is to ensure justice is not at the cost of the defendant’s rights.

What is your best chance of success?

Simply put, hire a criminal defense lawyer with the experience and skill to explain your rights and one who will fight aggressively to defend them. This is the best way to level the playing field and protect you from false charges or an unfair trial. The skilled defense team at Simms Showers, LLP in Leesburg have decades of experience representing criminal defendants in Prince William county and throughout northern Virginia. Call today for a consultation.

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