If you recently found yourself under arrest, and are now facing criminal charges, the most important thing you can do for yourself and your future is to retain the services of a Tennessee experienced criminal defense attorney. If this is also the first time you have been officially accused of a criminal offense, you likely have a number of questions about the criminal court system and how your case will proceed through the system. Understandably, one of the most important questions you likely have is “How does a criminal defense attorney decide on a defense strategy?” Because every case is unique, and no two attorneys approach their defense of a client the same way, it is always best to discuss your specific defense strategy with your criminal defense attorney. There are, however, several factors that typically determine how a criminal defense attorney decides on a defense strategy, including:
- Strength of the State’s evidence – one of the first thing your Tennessee criminal defense attorney will do after you hire him/her is to evaluate the State’s evidence. Your attorney will determine how strong the evidence is against you. For example, if you are charged with sexual assault, your attorney will look for things such as whether the State has DNA evidence linking you to the victim and/or eye witnesses that place you with the victim at the time of the alleged assault. A case where the State has a significant amount of DNA evidence, an eye witness, and no motive for the victim to lie is clearly much stronger than a case where it boils down to the victim’s word against your word.
- Type of evidence the State has against you – along with how strong the evidence is, your attorney will evaluate the type of evidence the State has because some evidence is more persuasive to a judge or jury than other evidence. As alluded to previously, physical evidence in any case is generally more persuasive than eye witness testimony. If the State does plan to use witnesses, your attorney will consider how well those witnesses are likely to hold up during cross examination as well.
- Your own criminal history, or lack thereof – this could factor in in several ways. If you have previous convictions, those convictions could be admissible during the trial if you decide to testify which is something that will affect your attorney’s decision to use a defense strategy that requires you to testify. Conversely, if you have no criminal history, and you are likely to make an excellent witness on your own behalf, your attorney might be more inclined to gamble on a defense strategy that relies heavily on your own testimony.
- Your wishes and intentions – as the client, you always make the ultimate decisions in your case, including the decision to take your case to trial or enter into a plea agreement. Although your attorney is largely responsible for deciding what defense strategies are available, you certainly have the right to voice your opinion. If, for instance, you have an alibi witness but prefer not to involve the person in your defense you certainly have the right to refuse to use that defense.
- Presence or absence of an affirmative defense – an affirmative defense effectively admits that you did engage in the conduct for which you were charged; however, you have a legal explanation that negates the criminal repercussions of that conduct. Self-defense, for instance, is an affirmative defense because when invoked as a defense, self-defense asserts that you committed the crime but you did so because you were protecting yourself.
- Risk vs. reward analysis – this is an essential step when developing any defense strategy. Your attorney will consider the charges against you and the potential punishment if you are convicted and then weigh that against the odds of any potential defense strategy working. For example, if you are charged with possession of a small quantity of a controlled substance and the State is counting on a constructive possession argument to convict you, your attorney may decide that challenging the “possession” element of the offense has a good chance of winning and, even if you lose you are not facing a lengthy prison sentence. Therefore, using that defense strategy may be a good idea.
If you are facing criminal charges in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with the experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.
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