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To ask how defending Lawyers/Solicitors sleep at night.

(461 Posts)
lollilou Tue 09-Oct-12 10:43:43

When they are defending someone who is accused of a horrible crime and that they know are guilty yet have to come up with a defense to try to get a not guilty verdict? It must happen a lot, how could you live with yourself in that situation? What if the accused gets off then commits another crime?

MissAnnersley Tue 09-Oct-12 10:46:26

What happens if someone innocent is convicted of a crime they didn't commit?

SadPanda Tue 09-Oct-12 10:48:51

Probably like a baby, knowing they have done their best to uphold our principles of justice in circumstances others would be too weak to cope with.

SomersetONeil Tue 09-Oct-12 10:48:56

You can't know, though. Otherwise why try people in a court of law. Just send them down, if 'knowing' is just enough.

Innocent until proven guilty, 'n all that.

DesperatelySeekingPomBears Tue 09-Oct-12 10:49:24

But what if someone has been wrongly accused? Would you like all accused parties to go unrepresented?

Bear in mind that a lot of the time, criminal defence solicitors and barristers aren't attempting to get a not guilty, but to mitigate the sentence due to a whole host of reasons. What about those with disabilities that prevent them from comprehending what is happening?

Save your dislike for the people that commit crimes, not for the people that provide them with legal advice and representation.

BettySwollocksandaCrustyRack Tue 09-Oct-12 10:49:29

It's their job, they must get used to it....Shoplifter...murdered.....they will try and find loopholes in the law I imagine if they know their client is guilty.

Of course, they probably represent lots of innocent parties too. Just because someone is accused of a horrid crime it doesnt mean they actually committed it.....everyone is entitled to a fair trial.

OddBoots Tue 09-Oct-12 10:49:36

I am not one but I think they sleep at night knowing it is a job that is essential to a fair legal system. We have to be sure that every conviction is undertaken with the firmest of process and that includes the right to professional representation. It would be so easy for the system to become extensively corrupt without these balances.

mcmooncup Tue 09-Oct-12 10:50:46

YA sort of NBU

I think people have the right to be defended. But the tactics, scaremongering, blatant lack of integrity among many a defence lawyer, just to win the case is DISGUSTING.

CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 09-Oct-12 10:51:50

If it's known that they committed the crime, they won't argue that they didn't. They'll just find all the detail, and present it to the jury. Medical illnesses, state of mind, the circumstances.

They make sure the court has all the information it needs to pass a valid, and legally correct, judgement.

It's an important role. I feel very sorry for those who have to go have conversations with people who have committed horrific crimes, who have to listen to their reasonings and rantings, and then have to go out and try and get "fair" justice for everyone.

But it is essential to our legal system, and therefore I hope they sleep well. They certainly have to cope with things most people couldn't.

SadPanda Tue 09-Oct-12 10:52:38

I think people have the right to be defended. But the tactics, scaremongering, blatant lack of integrity among many a defence lawyer, just to win the case is DISGUSTING.

Evidence to support your claim please.

Pootles2010 Tue 09-Oct-12 10:53:36

Totally agree with Caja. They're dealing with a shitty situation so that this person can be tried. Would you prefer we didn't have a legal system?

suburbandweller Tue 09-Oct-12 10:54:37

Things are rarely black and white OP so I'm afraid I am giving you my first ever biscuit. As a lawyer (not criminal) I find this question exceptionally irritating. Everyone has a right to a fair trial in the English justice system, guilty or not guilty. Defence lawyers don't go making up defences, they make sure that all the circumstances of the case are known, including mitigating factors. It isn't like American legal dramas you know.

mustbetimetochange Tue 09-Oct-12 10:55:04

Everyone is entitled to a fair trial - but trials aren't fair they are totally weighted in favour of the defendant

I was at a child abuse trial - the victims school records were considered fair game, the defendant was suspended 7 times in a year, twice for violence towards children the same age as the victim was during the relevant period - his school records were not admissible.

There was lie, piled upon lie, piled upon lie - and who is there for the victim - no-one.

The prosecuting barrister isn't allowed to speak to the victim or the victims family.

They sleep at night - because they simply dont care, they get paid regardless.

Mrsjay Tue 09-Oct-12 10:55:58

because it is the law everybody is entitled to a defence innocent until proven , I am sure some lawyers can be affected with trials they don't have to like or approve of their clients

mustbetimetochange Tue 09-Oct-12 10:56:10

* Defence lawyers don't go making up defences*

That is simply not true.

Dahlen Tue 09-Oct-12 10:56:13

I'm not approaching this from the perspective of liking lawyers since IME many of them make a lot of money off the backs of people's misfortune <bitter> but honestly, if we start refusing proper legal representation when accused of crime, we make a mockery of our justice system.

Yes, the truth is that due to the way the criminal justice system works, most of those going to court are likely to be guilty, but there are always the innocents who aren't, or those who have mitigating circumstances that deserve to be taken into account. I'm sure that it's cases like these that make the all-too-regular occurrence of defending the indefensible worthwhile. Even the lawyers must get fed up of it some time, but as professionals they have a duty to themselves and the justice system to defend even their guilty clients to the best of their ability.

That's why we have courts instead of mob rule, which is A Good Thing.

IfImHonest Tue 09-Oct-12 10:57:25

I'm 'one of those people' who defend people who are accused of horrific crimes. And I sleep at night because:

(a) Everyone has the right to be represented. Everyone. I believe fundamentally in that principle and I'd die in a ditch over it. Imagine living in a country where people weren't given access to fair representation.

(b) People accused of awful crimes aren't always guilty. And funnily enough, in most cases (not all) I'd rather a guilty person went free than an innocent person went to prison. Miscarriages of justice ruin lives too.

(c) The justice system is actually pretty good in most cases. If someone has genuinely committed a crime, then no amount of 'clever lawyer tricks' is going to get them off in most cases.

(d) Plus, if you actually 'know' that someone is guilty, i.e. because they tell you that you are, but they ask you to come up with a defence, it is actually against my professional code of conduct to represent them at all. I'd have to bow out. So it is not possible for a lawyer to know someone is guilty and then represent them.

So that's how I sleep at night. And I sleep very well, thanks.

DesperatelySeekingPomBears Tue 09-Oct-12 10:58:08

Mustbetime, barristers don't tend to speak to those they represent on either side, not just prosecution. They rely on the information presented to them by solicitors. Barristers are a very different breed to solicitors.

IfImHonest Tue 09-Oct-12 10:58:39

But yes, I do get jaded sometimes. It's hard to represent people who are coming off drugs, are abusive etc. But all worth it for the times when you get someone innocent off.

Dahlen Tue 09-Oct-12 10:58:44

I think there is some truth in the suggestion that victims often have a more traumatic experience at trial than the accused, however. You only have to look at the way in which rape victims are treated to see that.

I don't see this as being the fault of the lawyers though. It's something that requires legislative change from a higher level in order for the lawyers to have stricter rules to follow about what is and isn't an acceptable line of questioning.

GooseyLoosey Tue 09-Oct-12 10:58:52

Almost all of the lawyer I know respect the justice system and believe that it works well and, in so far as is possible, provides a fair outcome.

Everyone is entitled to legal representation and there is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The prosecution have to make their case about the defendant beyond reasonable doubt. The defence team point out doubts or possible defences.

How can you ever know someone is guilty (assuming lack of eye witnesses or confession)?

wandymum Tue 09-Oct-12 11:00:11

You have to look at it not that you are defending the guilty but that you are ensuring the integrity of our justice system by putting the prosecution to proof.

The defence's job is not too get the guilty off - it is the proesecution's job to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The defence is there to make sure that the trial is fair and that everything is taken into consideration.

If a lawyer actively knows his client is guilty (i.e. the client has told him) then he cannot bring evidence to try and prove innocence. But even then the defendant is still entitled to representation to highlight mitigating factors and to plead for a lighter sentence.

Also remember that as well as guilty people going free there are innocent people going to jail. The right to a defence is a key protection against this "… it is better one hundred guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer."

suburbandweller Tue 09-Oct-12 11:00:12

Well said IfImHonest

FireOverBabylon Tue 09-Oct-12 11:00:58

In my gut, I agree, but playing devil's advocate - some of these people will have mitigating circumstances that would change a crime from murder to manslaughter, for example. Some of these people will be innocent however strong the evidence seems otherwise - remember Colin Stagg? everyone deserves legal representation - remember the Jamie Bulger case where they arrest a teenager and people were outside the police station shouting "hang him"? He was innocent and later released. Should he not have had legal representation?

ReallyTired Tue 09-Oct-12 11:01:10

If there were no defence lawyers then it would be just a kangeroo trial.

The defendent has a right to legal advice as much as anyone.

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