The criminal justice system is a maze of extraordinary confusion. To state the obvious: if you’re charged with a crime, you need an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer. Folks do try to “go this alone” and it ends up in disaster. Your lawyer not only knows the law, but he or she knows the prosecutor, the judge, the probation officer, and the clerk’s office. One of the reasons you’ve hired your attorney is because of these relationships. So, the first step in winning a case is hiring the right lawyer for the job. Once you’ve done that, it’s all about teamwork.
Two Important Aspects to Winning Your Case
The two most important aspects of winning a criminal case are defining your goals and coming up with a compelling theory of the case. Let’s discuss the importance of defining your goals first, because everything that happens in your case must be in complete service of the goals you’ve set.
1. Defining Goals For Your Criminal Case
Different people have different ideas of what winning looks like. For example, if you’re a doctor or a nurse, chances are your top priority is to maintain your professional license. Getting an acquittal at trial is nice, sure. But the risk of being found guilty may be too much to bear. In a case like that, it would be all about keeping a conviction of your record. A plea that ended up in a dismissal may be the way to go.
On the other hand, if due to some unfortunate circumstances, you have a criminal record or immigration problems, your goal may be to avoid jail at all costs. In that event, a plea—even a guilty one—may be the best course of action. Or, for example, you may be completely innocent, and the most important thing is to prove your innocence.
Trial may be your only option. But you cannot set a good strategy without first defining your goals. And you need an experienced criminal lawyer to help you figure out your goals.
2. Developing the Theory for a Criminal Lawsuit
Once your goals are set, the next thing to do is begin to develop the theory of the case. The theory of the case will likely change as you and your lawyer learn more about the case. But what you need to know now is that it’s impossible to win without a compelling theory of the case.
A theory of the case is simply a package of all the good and bad facts blended with the law and human emotion that drives a decision-maker to find in your favor. The importance of this cannot be overstated. You and your lawyer are a partnership, and he cannot figure out the theory of the case without you.
This is why it’s so important to be honest with your attorney. We’ve heard it all. Trust me. It’s like going to a doctor and not being truthful. You’re only hurting yourself. Lawyers are under an ethical obligation to keep confidential whatever you tell them about past conduct. We can’t help you otherwise. So out with it. Speak the truth and it will not harm you.
While you’re talking with your attorney, be sure to mention any witnesses that would be helpful for your case. And tell your lawyer also about those witnesses that may hurt you. Did you go to a bar and have just one drink? Keep your receipt. Maybe get some video footage. Remember, criminal cases are stories. So come up with a timeline of events. Think about the who, what, where, and when. Even tiny details may prove important.
Things You Must Do to Help Support Your Massachusetts Defense Case
Let’s talk about some other things that you must do to help with your case. If you’re not being held in jail pending trial (in other words, you’re on bail or promise to appear for your next court date), it is critical that you do not get arrested for another crime or violate your conditions of release.
You should also not make any statements whatsoever to the police. You have a 5th amendment right against self-incrimination. Use it. Along those lines, don’t talk to anyone else about your case other than your lawyer. You could make that person a witness. That is particularly worrisome when, for example, you’ve been arrested for domestic violence, and you live with the alleged victim.