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Victories in the Criminal Courtroom


You win some, you lose some. That's the way life goes, right? Well for a defense attorney, winning doesn't always come with those famous two words. "Not Guilty." Sometimes a victory comes with simply making your client happy and listening to what they want. After all, we are advocates.

Recently I found myself caught in one of the true defense attorney dilemmas. My desired outcome differed from my client's desired outcome. I saw an opportunity for a successful trial, and she saw the looming "what if" possibilities. When faced with a criminal charge, many factors must be considered when determining the outcome. Taking a case to trial comes with enormous amounts of unpredictability, thus a huge risk. Because of that risk, plea bargains exist as a safety net for both the state and the accused.

It's true. Every trial is a gamble. You can't predict exactly how the jury will see the evidence, and this to defendants, rightfully so, can be a scary reality. But I was ready.

· Great police field sobriety test video. Check.
· Well-spoken, working woman. Check.
· Relentless defense attorney to show the jury the light. Check.

I like getting the best outcomes for my clients. So when I see opportunity for acquittal, I want to take it. Other times, it's about making deals and knowing the reality of the situation at hand. Here, I knew we could take this to trial and be successful. I was ready to come in guns blazing and have justice in the courtroom. My client on the other hand let the looming "what if" possibilities get the best of her. It was no longer about justice and acquittals; it was about ensuring the minimum effects on her life outside of the courtroom.

Sometimes your client isn't on board to gamble with the risks a trial has to offer, and we as defense attorneys have to respect that. I could have had those famous two words, but a win in my client's eyes is a win for me. We walked away the morning of trial taking a plea in front of the judge. Like Kenny Rogers always says, "you gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run." My client decided to put down the playing cards early. It was what she was comfortable with and it was what she wanted. It may not have been a "not guilty," but it was victory nonetheless.