The role of a defense attorney is to protect the constitutional rights of ALL people
I am often asked controversial questions about my role as a criminal defense attorney. How can I represent someone who I know to be guilty of the crime with which they are charged? What if they’re charged with a particularly heinous crime? My duty as a criminal defense attorney is to protect the constitutional rights of Americans. Here are some of the reasons that is so important.
Firstly, anyone charged with a crime, whether it is a minor crime or a brutal crime, is presumed to be innocent and is entitled to be represented by a competent attorney whose sworn duty is to zealously defend the individual within the bounds of the law. That attorney’s role is to hold the government true to its obligations; ensuring all evidence is acquired lawfully, and only that lawfully obtained evidence is presented in court. For example, if there was a confession or admissions of guilt, that evidence must have been obtained legally.
If the evidence was obtained illegally, by compulsion, force or other illegal means, then that evidence may not be admitted against a defendant. If the evidence was obtained in violation of a person’s right against unlawful search and seizure, it is not admissible in court and cannot be used to convict a person…even in the case of a brutal crime. It is the attorney’s role to examine all the facts and assert whatever legal arguments are appropriate to protect the rights of an accused—this puts checks and balances in place to ensure the government does not have the un-restrained power to illegally obtain evidence in order to secure a conviction.
Even when representing guilty parties, a criminal defense attorney protects the rights of all citizens from illegal government activity and upholding the constitutional guarantees for all citizens.
To convict any person of a crime, it is the government that bears the burden of showing proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is inherent in the constitutional motto of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ An attorney’s job at trial is to make sure the evidence that is presented against an accused is reliable and admitted according to constitutional rules.
All in all, we as Americans are granted constitutional guarantees, and just because a crime is particularly brutal or heinous, we must continue to uphold that right for our citizens. It is my role, and the role of criminal defense attorneys everywhere, to ensure that is the case. Each time an attorney represents an accused that attorney is working to protect everyone’s rights as US citizens.