Being charged with a crime is most certainly one of the most traumatic events you can experience, and then attempting to retain the right attorney or law firm might also feel like a daunting task. The Criminal Defense Trial Attorneys at the Barone Defense Firm understand that difficulty and that trauma, therefore we want to address some important factors in hiring the right trial attorney for your case.
Trial is an Endangered Species
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) recently published a report that 3% of all criminal cases in State and Federal Court are resolved through Trial compared to 20% of cases from 30 years ago. A related article lists that some of the reasons for this decrease include fear of what is known as a trial penalty or trial tax, meaning a worse sentence after a loss at trial. This is balanced against the fact that a lesser sentence can be arranged as part of a plea agreements. Certainly, another reason is the lack of ability or lack of experience of the trial attorney themselves. The very fact fewer cases reach trial every year is reason enough to seek an attorney that does not have significant trial experience, and who will not be afraid to go to trial.
Statistics can be misleading but worth analyzing and understanding them in context. The Barone Defense Firm Trial Lawyers for example historically proceed to trial on far more than the 3% cited in the report. One of the reasons we take more cases to trial is because doing so helps meet our specific client needs and goals. Therefore, because our clients are the most educated person on their case and because of the potential significant collateral and legal consequence unique to our clients electing to proceed to trial is the right decision for them, more of our clients make this decision.
Who Makes the Trial, no Trial Decision?
The client. The decision to pursue your constitutional right to trial is always your decision, but a decision that only be made by you when you have been properly advised and educated to the strategy, the pros and cons, the evidential issues, the possible testimony, and the possible consequences. Ultimately, the choice of trial is a personal one, unique to you, but confidence in your attorney is undoubtedly one of those factors. Our reputation as skilled and successful trial lawyers is a reputation that is not only present to our peers and past clients, but also in the offices of prosecutors around the state, which means they know you’ll be ready.
Good Things Happen When You Answer, “Ready for Trial” Your Honor.
“Ready for Trial” is a battle cry for defense attorneys, but this is not or should not be an ego-issue. Trial is not about me, but about you. Our clients face serious legal consequences, and serious personal collateral consequences, and the decision of trial is not one for the attorney but for you. We would never want to proceed to trial as bluff or tactic, but only because it is the right decision for you, by you.
However, the decision to go to trial can also lead to resolutions or outcomes that were not possible prior to the trial. An acquittal, or a Not Guilty (what we like to call that two-word verdict) is undoubtedly the ultimate goal, but there are other cases when the goal may be (at worst) being found guilty of a lesser offense.
Anecdotally but accurate, I reference a recent trial, where after two days of trial, arguably the mid-way point of the trial, a plea offer was made by the prosecutor that allowed our client to enter a No Contest plea (not admit guilt) to an amended charge that allowed him to avoid a potential prison sentence and avoid registering on Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA) list. Prior to trial there had never been any offer. The decision for him to go to trial, and the decision to accept a plea, were choices that he made that he believed were best for him.
A similar experience occurred this week on a case set for trial. A jury was selected two weeks ago and despite multiple previous proposals our client faced no reduction in the charge, until the day before trial. He happily accepted knowing that he was going to be able to keep his job. This is another example of an outcome that would not have occurred without the courage and knowledge of our client electing trial over a plea, or more accurately a plea as charged.
Overall, the statistics of trial or plea certainly represent a trackable data point, but they certainly do not tell the whole story. As Trial Attorneys we are Story Tellers, and we want to tell your story. The Criminal Defense Trial Lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm are always Ready for Trial, but more importantly, we will make sure that you are ready to make the right choice for you.