Sacramento, CA asked in Criminal Law for Arizona

Q: I need some questions answered from a criminal defense attorney for a school assignment? Please and thank you

• What is your day to day as a criminal defense attorney?

• What is your expertise of practice?

• Do attorneys only come in after an arrest has been made?

• What is the role of an attorney from arrest to sentencing?

• How often do attorneys interact with prosecutors and judges during this process?

• How do you know that you have a firm understanding of your client’s case?

• Who is most influential during a trial: attorneys, prosecutors, or judges?

• Should you care about being more appealing to the jury or judge?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Stewart Salwin
Stewart Salwin
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: • What is your day to day as a criminal defense attorney?

A defense attorney's day includes going to court (usually in mornings, unless there is a hearing or trial scheduled for the afternoon), talking with clients, conducting research on a case, and writing motions.

• What is your expertise of practice?

Criminal Defense

• Do attorneys only come in after an arrest has been made?

No, a client might suspect that he is under investigation by the police prior to the police actually making an arrest. In these situations, an attorney can assist a client in preparing for his or her defense and gathering evidence on behalf of the client. The attorney can use this exculpatory (meaning, tending to prove innocence) evidence to try to negotiate with the state so that no charges are ever brought against a client to begin with.

• What is the role of an attorney from arrest to sentencing?

A client's role is always to provide for the interests of his client and provide competent representation in his or her defense. This includes such things as consulting with the client about the legal matter he or she is facing, meeting with prosecutors to negotiate a plea agreement or dismissal, arguing pretrial motions (for example to suppress evidence that was obtained unlawfully), representing the client at trial, and arguing on the client's behalf for as least severe a sentence as possible if the client is found guilty.

• How often do attorneys interact with prosecutors and judges during this process?

Very frequently. At least every court hearing. The attorney cannot interact with the judge outside of the prosecutor's presence because ethical rules forbid what is called ex parte communication. However, a defense attorney can speak with the prosecutor anytime that he wants if the prosecutor is willing to discuss the case with him.

• How do you know that you have a firm understanding of your client’s case?

A defense attorney gets information about a client's case from multiple sources. The client is one source, but a defense attorney will also sometimes rely on independent investigators who gather evidence on the client's behalf, expert witnesses who can interpret more complex evidence (such as lab results), the police report, interviews with witnesses and the police officers, and any other source of evidence in a particular case. The state also has a duty to disclose all the evidence that they intend to use against the defendant as well as evidence that tends to be exculpatory.

• Who is most influential during a trial: attorneys, prosecutors, or judges?

Everybody has a unique role to play in the justice system. The defense attorney advocates for his client. The prosecutor represents the state, but he or she also has a duty to ensure that the law is being followed and the rights of the defendant are upheld. The judge makes the rulings when there is a dispute between the defense and the prosecution and also gives the sentence if the defendant is guilty. In the sense that the judge is the umpire in the case, you might say he or she is the most influential. However, you can also say the prosecutor is the most influential because he or she determines whether the state will bring charges and can decide to dismiss the charges against the defendant. Finally, the defense attorney can the most influential if he persuasively argues for his client and this results in a not guilty verdict.

• Should you care about being more appealing to the jury or judge?

Both have an important role. However, in a jury trial, it is the jury that decides whether a defendant is guilty or innocent. Because the jury decides who wins, a defense attorney always wants to appeal to the jury.

Good luck on your assignment!

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