Could you be a motivated defense lawyer for as guilty person

Pretend you are a criminal lawyer.

Could you be full motivated to defend a client you are pretty damn sure is guilty as hell, such as a child murderer/ rapist? I couldn’t, I’d feel dirty if I did.

IANAL, but I do believe in the principle that everyone is entitled to legal representation in criminal matters. I would insist my client be absolutely honest with me, I would drop him if I felt he weren’t, and if he were truly guilty, then I would advise him on the best course of action. I would hope not to be the type who tries to portray a guilty man as innocent.

Of course, that probably means I would suck as a defence attorney. But I could live with myself under those conditions.

Why would you feel dirty? You wouldn’t have to claim that your client is innocent, or put him on the witness stand knowing he would lie, or lie at all yourself.

A lawyer represents his or her client, and acts in the client’s interest. You might, for instance, point out that the prosection had only really shaky evidence of your client’s guilt. Or that the prosecution had done something wrong, like withholding exculpatory material. Or that evidence was improperly obtained and therefore inadmissible. And all of those things might well be true, and what, exactly, would be wrong with pointing that out?

I have no problem with criminal defense lawyers, most of whom are pretty ethical, in my experience.

IANAL, by the way.

By the way, I voted “other” because “Yes I could, because someone has to do it” doesn’t seem like the right option. If there were a simple “yes” option, or something like “yes, absolutely, no problem,” I would have chose that option.

The accused is entitled to a competent defense. There is no way that I could not get utterly depressed representing someone I knew was guilty. Therefore, I cannot be a criminal defense attorney.

I have mixed feelings for this question. Of course we need defense lawyers for the guilty no matter what they have done. It’s not the job of the defense lawyer to turn guilty into innocent but to ensure proper process and do whatever is the best for the client’s situation. If the client is guilty I’d try to convince him to confess and get a more lenient punishment, if he’s not guilty I’d try to prove that.

Now, there is the problem when the client is not cooperating and he’s accused of something hideous. I’d probably advice him to seek another lawyer hoping that the next one will say the same thing - confess & cooperate (if guilty) instead of trying to turn black into white.

Even in the most straight forward cases where the guilt has been well established (like the Aurora case) I want to see a proper defense for the bastard. Otherwise we’ll throw thousands of years of evolving as a society out the window and start judging people like they do in North Korea. So in the end, I think could be the defense lawyer for anyone willing to cooperate for the best defense.

Michael Connelly’s Mickey Haller defense-attorney novels have taught me a lot about some of the ins and outs of being a defense attorney.

Considering it’s a child murderer/rapist we’re talking about, I’m afraid I would be tempted to fuck up his case and aid in his conviction somehow.

Other crimes – I think I could probably do it. But not for that.

It’s a constitutional right to be afforded a defense. Some of these attorneys are jerks…others are a doing a serious public service.

I’d have a hard time defending a rapist. I really would. But your job isn’t to get someone off for rape…it’s to make sure you do a thorough job defending them. And if the prosecution has a weak case, it’s your duty to expose that.

Criminal defense attorneys who do find themselves in that position just have to remember that it is on the prosecution to put someone in jail, not them.

I don’t think I could. It’s a job that needs to be done, but I’m not the guy for it.

I tried it, but it was not for me. It is important for me to care about my clients. I couldn’t give a shit about the murderers and rapists I represented, so I dropped my criminal practice.

I can and have done so. Its not that difficult. What is difficult is when you have suggestions like in the OP that defending an accused=agreeing with his actions.

I don’t think I could do it. If I got someone off on a legal technicality and they went on to do it again, I’d hate myself.

What exactly is a “legal technicality”?

I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer. :smiley:

Please don’t twist my words. I never suggested that at all.

Don’t forget, if it’s pretty obvious to ou that your client is guilty, it’s also going to be pretty obvious to a jury. Most accused people plead guilty, and of those who don’t, most are connected. This,neat bothered me most when I practiced criminal law was not defending the guilty, since they by and large got convicted, but defending the few I thought were innocent. They also, by and large, got convicted. It might be of some interest to note that by far the most common charge of those I thought were not guilty we’re clients accused of child sex crimes.

I will say, however, that I had a few cases similar to the premise of the OP, one rape and one murder. Both clients were true scumbags, and both insisted on a trial despite quite strong evidence of guilt. I put on the best defense I could, but both were found guilty.

I wouldn’t be able to directly revictimize a victim of a terrible crime. I couldn’t get someone up on the stand and say they were lying about being raped. I could present mitigating factors and stuff like that though. I also couldn’t try to get someone off completely who was likely to reoffend, again with a really bad crime. I could try to negotiate a lighter sentence.

Me too.

We need strong criminal defense counsel to make sure it’s difficult for the State to take away someone’s property, liberty, or life. Societies where it is easy for the State to do these things tend to be unpleasant places to live.

I could never be a criminal defense attorney, because I’d fear the consequences of failure too much - what if a man were convicted because I’d botched his case? But I have no ethical problem with the work at all, and great respect for my friends who do it.