Can a Lawyer Guarantee an Outcome in My Criminal Case?

If you’ve been charged criminally, there are probably a thousand questions running through your mind, and you’re looking through the internet and calling lawyers to answer those questions and set your mind at ease. One of the things that a lot of people want to hear is, “Don’t worry, these charges are going to be dismissed.” or “It will be fine. You’ll be found not guilty.”

While this is what everyone wants to hear, an shouldn’t be hearing those things from a criminal defense attorney, and here’s why.

  1. It is unethical for an attorney to guarantee an outcome. In North Carolina, it is actually against Bar Association rules to make any sort of promise about the outcome of a case.
  2. A lawyer doesn’t control the outcome of a case. A judge or jury controls the verdict. The District Attorney offers plea deals. If I could control the outcome of my cases, I would be a very rich man.

If you get an attorney that makes a guarantee or promise about how a case will be resolved or the outcome of the case, you should run the other way. Why? Because he’s just telling you what you want to hear to make a sale, rather than telling you the truth and setting your expectations appropriately. I would rather not get hired by a potential client that has unreasonable expectations than get hired and have a client get angry with me because I made a promise about an outcome I couldn’t deliver. Many of my referrals come from past clients who may not have been found not guilty, but they knew exactly what was happening throughout their case and they knew I was fighting for them as hard as I could, even though I couldn’t get the charges dismissed or get them found not guilty.

So what can a lawyer say, promise or guarantee?

  • A lawyer can tell you about their knowledge and experience
  • A lawyer can tell you about other cases he’s had that are similar to yours and how those cases were handled and the outcomes
  • A lawyer can guarantee that he’ll work hard and fight for you
  • A lawyer can promise good communication
  • A lawyer can assure you that he’ll always tell you the truth and set your expectations reasonably

But that’s all a lawyer can promise. Nothing drives me crazier than hearing from a prospective client that they hired another attorney because I was unwilling to guarantee an outcome and the lawyer they hired did. It’s part of what gives the profession a bad name. If you’ve been charged criminally, you need representation from someone that won’t sugar coat the facts and will prepare you for what’s to come. The truth is the best guarantee in the business.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.