Recently, a young man by the name of Nikolas Cruz walked into his Parkland, Florida high school and opened fire, killing 17 and injuring 16 others. Despite a confession and the opinions of Americans across the country, Cruz’s public defender, Howard Finkelstein, is fighting to defend him in court.
The number one question asked of criminal defense lawyers is, “How can you defend such heinous crimes?” Though many attorneys may find the crimes for which their clients are charged to be depraved acts, there are many reasons why one would defend the likes of alleged rapists and murderers.
1. Our Rights
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides the accused with the right to have the assistance of counsel for his or her defense. Criminal defense attorneys respect the rights of their clients to have their choice of conflict-free counsel. They also understand that prosecutors, law enforcement, and the courts, make mistakes in levying charges, collecting evidence, and interviewing witnesses.
2. Excessive Charges
It’s a well-known fact that the initial charges in most criminal cases are not those which the accused is convicted of in the end. Oftentimes, prosecutors will charge suspects as harshly as possible in order to garner a plea deal. Defense lawyers make it a point to review these charges and file motions in court to have many of them reduced or dismissed to ensure they accurately portray the evidence and known facts of the alleged crime.
3. Sheer Curiosity
For some time, criminal attorneys have admitted that they take on difficult cases out of simple curiosity. These lawyers are keen to learn what makes people tick and why they do things. The acts themselves are not what interest defense lawyers. Instead, they are interested in knowing what aspects of their upbringing, background, events leading up to the crime, and their thought processes before the act was committed.
4. Natural Contrariness
Though many will see them as “The Devil’s Advocates”, criminal defense lawyers do often carry with them a naturally contrary way of thinking. Attorneys are trained to analyze situations from all angles and this includes the charges made against their clients as well as the court proceedings. Many will report that they take criminal cases simply because it seems so cut-and-dry or the charges are widely, and publicly, supported.
5. Personal Reflection
Very much related to one’s need to satisfy a curiosity, lawyers will enter the criminal defense field because they recognize themselves in their clients. These lawyers believe that no one is without the ability to commit a crime, no matter how heinous it may be, because no one knows how they will react in any given situation until they are presented with those circumstances.
So no matter what the charges may be, or how many bystanders and family members are calling for blood, the duty taken on by criminal defense attorneys is necessary and sometimes even requested.