The Right to a Defense

Matt Pinsker

September 14, 2022

The Right to a Defense

The right to a defense is fundamental to a person’s constitutional rights. By the 5th Amendment, everyone is guaranteed the right to a fair trial. This right includes the presumption of innocence. This means that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, having a defense attorney who can provide the most vigorous defense is essential for every defendant.

Defending innocents without a defense

In many criminal cases, the accused may have no way to prove their innocence. As a result, underfunded attorneys are unable to conduct a thorough independent investigation, prepare a defense, or follow up on leads that may lead to the actual perpetrator. A famous example of this problem involves the case of Travis Hayes and Ryan Matthews, who were convicted of murder when they were only seventeen. In both cases, their convictions resulted in life without parole.

Defending the guilty without a defense

Defending the guilty without a defense is not always possible. First, the Crown Prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crime. This means that the accused must have acted consciously. It is rare for a person to commit a crime when unconscious. In such cases, a person may use the defense of “automatism,” which occurs when an accused person moves about automatically (such as sleepwalking).

Defending the unpopular

Defending the unpopular is a common practice among lawyers. While no one can force a lawyer to take on the case of an unpopular client, the profession often celebrates its successes in representing the unpopular. For example, Tom Spahn, a commercial litigator at McGuireWoods in McLean, Va., regularly advises Fortune 500 companies on matters involving ethics, conflicts of interest, attorney-client privilege, and corporate investigations.

Defending the unpopular is challenging. The undesirable face prejudice and intolerance often stem from media portrayals. This frustration is compounded in a populist environment where the presumption of innocence is under attack, and punitive sentencing is the norm. As such, lawyers must exercise their professional judgment and sensitivity in defending the unpopular.

Defending the innocent

The best way to protect the innocent from wrongful convictions is to provide them with an aggressive public defense. Since aggressive efforts began in Louisiana in 1991, 25 men have been found innocent after serving long periods in prison. These wrongful convictions are not isolated to one area of the state and result from a defendant’s failure to receive a strong defense during the trial and the initial appeal process.

An experienced criminal defense attorney has the resources to prepare a top-notch defense. As a result, they can hire a top-notch lawyer to protect their client from being falsely accused of a crime. Unfortunately, this type of defense is often unattainable for public defenders, as they lack the workforce, resources, and talent to provide effective guards for every accused defendant. Because of this, society faces a real danger of incarcerating innocent people.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can negotiate a favorable plea deal for you. Unfortunately, the majority of cases never reach trial because of this. In such cases, the defense attorney knows how to negotiate with the prosecution and convince them of the defendant’s innocence. By showing the prosecution they were mistaken, the trial will be more likely to drop the charges.