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“How Can You Represent Someone You Know Is Guilty?”

Posted on : March 29, 2015, By:  Tom Kokonowski, Esq.

An often asked question. Usually by someone having their second martini and whose kid has not been caught….yet. Also, probably not worded correctly because it all depends on how you are defining “represent.” Not all criminal representation means a jury trial and “getting people off.”

In fact, the overwhelming majority of criminal cases are resolved without a trial. They are resolved by some type of technical defense or most likely by a plea of some sort. Contained within that type of representation is the ability of a lawyer to make a difference in his client’s life, because 99{9cf3d661798bdd1a21596d96d864c58fbc0f2f6fcb790ce31dcab58c5e84cbcc} of criminal defendants who did “do it” are having some sort of trouble in their lives. Sometimes it is long term trouble, sometimes it’s a more recent set back. Either way, it is rewarding as a criminal defense attorney to help those people who need help with the underlying issue that has them in my office in the first place. That’s how I can represent that type of person who I know is guilty.

There are those people who “did it” who go to trial, too. I assume this is the situation that the title of this entry refers to. I guess the question actually is, “How can you represent/defend someone during a jury trial who you know is guilty ?” That’s easy. Our Constitutions require it.

You have a Constitutional right to have a trial as a criminal defendant, no matter what the circumstances. A criminal defendant is in the very same situation that David was in when Goliath was waiting for him on the battlefield. The government is a Goliath. They are equipped with many police, investigators, expert witnesses, hot shot prosecutors, time, and most importantly, vast amounts of money.

It truly is the Commonwealth vs. (fill in the blank). Even if the defendant has money, it is not the same amount available to the government, and the resource advantage always goes to the government. The defendant will always only have seven smooth stones. Our system is designed in a way that allows 100 guilty people go free if it means that not one innocent person goes to jail. That is the best part of this system.

But with all those resources the government should be able to convict all guilty people….right…..? That’s how I can represent that type of person in that situation.

There is a third situation that I usually pose to the person who asked me the original question…always after his 3rd Martini-Imagine being the defense attorney of a person who you know is NOT Guilty as the jury is filing back into the court room with a verdict on a life felony case after a week long trial. That’s right. Your client is facing life in prison, you are certain he did not do it, and a jury is about to render its verdict. Those are the cases that cause sleepless nights.


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