Friday, November 2, 2012

Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys: A Paralegal's Perpective

Note: This contribution is from the paralegal staff at Sharifi & Baron PLLC

Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys: What I Think They Do

When I tell people I work for a criminal defense attorney’s office, they always ask how I feel about it.  The assumption is that if you work for a criminal defense attorney, you will be dealing with hard criminals on a daily basis and that you are working to put these criminals back on the street.  The underlying implication is that this is morally wrong and something I shouldn’t be proud to be a part of. The reality of it is, there is a wide spectrum of innocent to guilty clients.  

Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys: What Everyone Else Thinks They Do

We are taught that we are “innocent until proven guilty.”  This certainly stands true in criminal defense.  The important thing to note is that many of our clients are innocent, and we are trying to help prove it.  Admittedly, some of our clients are guilty, and don’t try to hide it.  Those client’s, however, aren’t trying to get away unscathed, they are trying to make amends and get on with their lives.  From a moral perspective, our office isn’t trying to litter the streets with criminals, but trying to get just and fair deals for our clients.
Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys: Why they do what they do

Many of our clients believe cooperating with the police means they will get a better deal in the end.  In cooperating with the police however, sometimes they say things that will lead to their conviction or admit guilt, regardless of whether or not they are truly guilty.  Many people are intimidated into saying things that they don’t mean or aren’t true.  Often times, detectives do what they call “blind calls” where they will have an alleged victim call the person they are accusing, and try to get them to admit guilt.  This is done without the accused knowing the detective is listening in on a third line.  This is completely legal, by the way.  Other times, detectives will interrogate suspects and say what they feel is necessary to get them to admit guilt, regardless of whether or not the information they are feeding you is true.  This is also legal.

Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys: What They Actually Do

For me, from a moral perspective, criminal defense attorneys are trying to help prevent confusion within the legal system.  When a client comes in and admits they are guilty, they aren’t asking our attorneys to get them off scot-free; they are asking our attorneys to help them right their wrongs.  Many are aware of the reality that they will have to pay a fine, do community service, or in extreme cases, serve jail-time.  These clients, however, are very aware and have accepted the fact that this is the case, and our attorney’s don’t hide the probability of these outcomes. 

 The way I look at it, the only way to defend yourself is to know your rights.  To know your rights, you have to understand the law.  The problem is that there is so much law - both federal and state -  that unless you’ve studied the law significantly, there is no way for you to truly understand it.  The way I look at it, this is why our attorneys are here.
On some level I understand why people might question my job. We aren’t here putting hardened criminals back out on the streets, rather, we are here to protect you, and your rights.  Criminal defense attorneys work hard to fight for you within the law.  They know how to navigate the system, and they guide you through it. 


Shanna White said...

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