The Logic of the Innocent Client

Raleigh criminal defendantsEveryone deserves a vigorous defense. In many cases, a person has committed some kind of crime, has been arrested, and has, usually, made admissions or confessions. In such cases, the criminal lawyer’s job is to limit the damage, assess the evidence, and, along with the client, build a defense.

Sometimes limiting the damage means making an early and full admission of guilt, paying restitution, and entering a diversion or deferral program.

Other times, even though my client may have some responsibility, the police or prosecutors lack the necessary evidence to convict. As everyone knows, in order to prove someone guilty, the State must ultimately convince 12 jurors to unanimously find that the case has been proved beyond all reasonable doubt. In other words, the State must entirely convince or fully satisfy all 12 jurors.

A crucial part of building a successful defense is to hire a criminal defense lawyer early in the process, and to avoid making any statements at all to police. Trying to look like the “good guy” or to explain innocent actions is a recipe to talk yourself into a criminal conviction.

About a third of my clients are entirely innocent of the criminal charge. These are clients who have committed no crime. They are wrongly accused or under suspicion because they may be related to the victim, or because the victim has lodged a complaint, for whatever reason.

They are not just “not guilty. They are innocent.

Unfortunately for them, if investigated or charged, they must go through the same process as everyone else. In addition, because they are innocent, there is usually no compromise that can be worked out.

While roughly 95 percent of all criminal cases in the United States end in a plea bargain, for innocent clients there is obviously a great deal of reluctance to accept a plea bargain because, in fact, they did nothing wrong. This creates enormous pressure on innocent defendants because while they may in fact be innocent, the cost of going to trial and losing can be catastrophic.

Defending the innocent is hard, not just for the innocent person who, through no fault of his own, find himself accused of a crime he did not commit. But also for his family, friends, children, and associates.

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.