Criminal lawyers in Melbourne who operate as defendants can find themselves in very uncomfortable scenarios when representing clients they know or suspect are guilty of a crime.
Every defendant is entitled to a fair trial and to seek legal representation and in that respect, these professionals are upholding that democratic right.
Yet it is one of the facets of the legal profession that can turn communities and individuals cynical about the process, seeing solicitors pick up a paycheck despite the evidence pointing to their direct guilt of a crime.
As a city, Melbourne has dealt with its fair share of criminals who have broken the law in all manner of ways and means.
So what should the lawyer do in these moments, what can they do and what are our expectations as a community?
Don’t Ask That Question
Criminal lawyers in Melbourne need to know the facts of the case to defend their client in court. From all angles and all perspectives there needs to circumstantial and direct evidence that features eyewitness reports, DNA testing, video or audio footage, documentation and more. In this instance, a solicitor working for the defence should never put themselves in a position to ask their client “are you guilty of the crime?”
This is to protect them from committing perjury during a trial because at no point can they legally claim that their client is innocent. All they could do in that instance is to venture forward with pointing to inconsistencies in the prosecution’s argument and to argue the facts that support the defence, but can make no claims of innocence. That will be a feature that ultimately becomes evident to a judge and jury, so it is strongly advised not to seek out that question.
Lawyers Can Quit Representing Their Client
There will be criminal lawyers in Melbourne who decide upon discovering that their client is guilty to pack up their suitcase and quit the role from that moment on. This will be a subjective choice where a defendant takes a moral stance, wanting at all costs to avoid the possibility of winning a case and setting a guilty individual free.
There can be guidelines in these examples if the representative wishes to cease their role, needing to allow enough time for that individual to seek an alternative. Very rarely will a charged individual want to maintain their professional relationship with a solicitor if they believe they do not wish to carry out their duty. By drawing a line in the sand, they can decide to walk.
Continue Operating Under New Conditions
Making that line in the sand is something that criminal lawyers in Melbourne have to grasp with and should that moment arrive, there are representatives who decide to take a different course. This will see that solicitor venture forth with their defence, but only under strict provisions where they take an aggressive stance against the prosecution. From legal loopholes that can be exercised to creating holes in the prosecution’s evidence and making sound arguments against conviction, there are strategies that allow the attorney to avoid dealing with the cut and dried question: “is the client guilty?”
“Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” and “Probable Cause”
Criminal lawyers in Melbourne who operate for the defence first and foremost are tasked with protecting the client against the charges. We must remember that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution, so even a verbal or signed confession can be grounds to ask questions regarding motive and circumstance.
Was that individual of the right age and mindset to be questioned and interrogated? Were they led on by law enforcement with the nature of their questions? Was the defence given the same evidence as the prosecution and at the same time? The two elements that are true here is the need for the prosecution to persuade a judge or jury that the crime was committed beyond a reasonable doubt and that there was probable cause.
Keeping a Clear Conscious
The fact of the matter is that criminal lawyers in Melbourne who are given a case to defend their client rarely ever know 100% one way or the other what occurred exactly. To keep a clear conscious, they have to trust that the legal system will uphold justice and to achieve that mark, they have to offer the best defence possible. It is a judge or jury who are tasked with the decision of guilt or innocence, not the solicitor. Criminal lawyers in Melbourne have a job to do and if they can carry this job out to the best of their ability, they can keep a clear conscious.
If there are continuing reservations from criminal lawyers in Melbourne about defending guilty clients, then they would be best advised switching their role to a prosecutor, practicing other aspects of law or transferring to another profession altogether. What should be made clear is that solicitors in this environment do not enjoy the idea of defending a guilty party, but without legal representation, preconceptions are allowed to manifest themselves and prosecutors can operate unopposed on basic facts.