A defense attorney's job isn't necessarily to prove a person is innocent. Sometimes people just aren't. In those cases, it's more a matter of making sure the person is getting a fair shot.
Sometimes, though, even that is impossible thanks to clients who just seem determined to mess things up for themselves.
One Reddit user asked:
And it turns out there's not a whole lot you can do when your client is really determined to ignore your advice, leave out key details, curse out a judge, or is just plain flat out guilty as sin and shows no remorse or ability to not flaunt that guilt.
It's interesting to hear what attorneys do in these situations, though. Proceed with caution, some of these responses do include mentions of rape, other violence, cruelty/harm to animals, drugs, and more.
A Volunteered Confession
My client gave a textbook perfect confession to a robbery the police had no leads on.
He had walked into the police station and told the front desk that he thought the cops were looking for him. He then volunteered that he and a friend robbed a gas station last week. Then, after police arrested and warned him (right to silence etc), and after he spoke at length with counsel (not me)...he repeated his confession in an audio/video statement. He wasn't forced or coerced. He hadn't been detained for an unreasonable time in cells first. They hadn't even interrogated him. But as a result of his confession, they were able to get a DNA warrant and matched him to blood swabbed at the scene.
And the best part? The police had no idea beforehand that it was him. My client and his friend had covered part of their faces, the surveillance video was horrible quality, and they had bear sprayed the store clerk (a 16 year old kid) immediately upon entering so the kid hadn't been able to provide the police with as description beyond "two males." And since he had no criminal record, he wasn't in the DNA database from previous crimes. He had just heard a rumour that police were investigating, and assumed they knew it was him.
I had to laugh when I got the police report and read all of this. I then focused on securing him as fair plea deal because he had no chance at an acquittal.
The Shaggy DefenseGiphy
I'm a criminal defense guy, so I have had plenty. Most infuriating one was a guy that got busted for selling rocks to a confidential informant.
The CI was wired for sound and video so the whole transaction is crystal clear. Plus the cops id'ed his car as the one that drove up the scene and he was stopped a couple of hours later with the buy money in his possession (serial numbers were recorded). He had three prior convictions for drug sales.
The prosecutor offered him five which was the mandatory minimum. He absolutely declined to even consider a plea, insisted on a jury trial, insisted on taking the stand and telling a ridiculous story about how it wasn't him in the video. There wasn't any doubt. It was absolutely him.
I felt like Lionel Hutz trying to string together a closing argument with a straight face. He got 20 years.
Sitting in court waiting and the case before ours at the time (theft) was going on much longer than it should have, Defense lawyer calls for a motion to dismiss, claiming lack of evidence. The judge says he will entertain said motion after lunch, hits gavel says court will reconvene at 1 pm, court dismissed. Defendant stands up and says loudly, "Told you i could get away with stealing that sh*t!"
He thought his case had been dismissed.
I had to try to defend a man who walked into a convenience store with a knife demanding money. He wore no mask, just his casual clothes, and walked through every aisle before he robbed it being spotted by every security camera in the store. After the robbery he ran back to the hotel he was staying at, also carrying an open back pack full of money and being seen by the hotel's security cameras in the process. He then went into his room, threw the bag on the floor and hid under a bed until police arrived.
I spent a long night thinking about it before passing the case to somebody else. Because I have no idea how to defend someone who has so much evidence against them.
A Tit Guy
My friend's mom was a defense lawyer for a hospital- her job was to represent doctors accused of malpractice or anything relating to doctor/patient interaction.
I forget all of the details, but she had one case where a female patient had accused a male doctor of assault. The claim was that the doctor groped the patient several times during a procedure.
Allegedly, the doctor had been coached to say that during a routine procedure, it's possible that he had inadvertently brushed up against the patients chest, and that if it happened, it was an unintentional consequence of following standard procedures.
So they get to the deposition, and I guess the first question the doctor gets is something along the lines of, "walk me through what happened" and the doctor says, "I don't know what you want me to say, man. I'm a tit guy. Always have been."
A Baby Attorney's Mistake
I had a client come in and spin me this yarn about how he owed all these child support arrears and the payments are killing him and could I file a petition to have the payment reduced. He spins this tale of his spouse alienating the children and that's why he never saw them. I filed the petition and the clerk called me aside one day and said I might want to review his actual divorce file, not just his child support file.
That was a wild ride. Orders of protection due to stalking, losing his visitation due to meth use, not making a single child support payment in 14 years. I do the best I can until he admits, on the stand, that he smokes a carton a week and drinks over a liter a day .... so that's over $200/week in cigarettes and liquor (and a little weed sometimes).
It did not go well. I was a baby attorney at the time and I could tell the judge wanted to tear me a new one for even filing this, but I was so beaten down by the end of the hearing that it would have been child abuse at that point.
A group of three young boys in my city drowned their neighbour's cat and recorded themselves doing it with their phones. The videos were copied by their friends and would inevitably be shown to the jury in court.
It was a case of the evidence speaking for itself. All I could really do was to argue for lighter punishment using their age as defense and the disastrous effect that group mentality can have on young people.
Trial Hasn't Even Started Yet
Young lad, bail hearing for weapons and drugs charges, had a decent shot at getting bail. Then he decided to give the judge the middle finger and told him to F off. Safe to say bail was denied. It'll be at least 4 months between that hearing and when trial starts...
A Secret Family
I had a family client whose ex wasn't letting him see his kid. So we were in court with him explaining how important parenting was to him, how much he loved being a father, etc.
After 45 minutes of this the mother says 'I don't know why he's saying this, he abandoned his other kids'.
Cue me who has never heard him mention having other kids. Turned out, yeah, 100% abandoned them. Has had no contact for years, never made any efforts.
Please give your lawyers important information especially if another party involved knows your secrets.
Being A Karen
My 1L summer I worked at a criminal defense firm and got tasked with watching all the police footage from our OWI (operating a vehicle while intoxicated) cases, my FAVORITE involved a woman (our client] calling police on some teens swimming at the apartment complexes indoor pool.
She claimed they were drinking, they clearly weren't. So, the cops ask them to try and keep it down and are about to be on their way when, for some insane reason, our client drives up to the community building (her apartment unit was across the street) like a bat out of hell.
You clearly see her almost hit an officer, then have the audacity to start yelling at them to do their job. . . You see where this is going right?
Homegirl was drunk. It was obvious from her entire demeanor. Also she left her home only wearing one shoe. She was legitimately in no risk of police conflict prior to this.... she definitely got an OWI. 🤷♀️ mind ya business folks.
Half A Bottle Of Vodka ... And Mom
I had a client come in for a DWI. She was about 40 and her mother came with her. She went into this story about her medications and how she wasn't drinking and she was framed by her ex that was the supervising sergeant of the officer who arrested her.
There was some difficulty getting the video from the prosecutors, but eventually we got it. Up to that point she had insisted on a trial. I took her (without her mom) to watch the video. She was wasted. Couldn't walk straight. Clearly intoxicated. Admitted on the video she drank half a bottle of vodka before driving.
I asked her if she thought we could convince the jury she wasn't intoxicated. She then agreed to take the reduction I had worked out for her (thankfully the prosecutor hadn't watched the video yet). Her mother was furious with me. I told her it was the clients decision; not mine or the moms.
Client eventually reached out to thank me for not showing the video to her mom. Weird relationship.
A Klepto ClientGiphy
Late night closing on a multimillion dollar deal. This was about 120 billable hours into my week (worst week of my career). Client came into our office to sign the papers and finish the negotiation. We finally got the deal signed up around 2 in the morning with the bankers set to initiate wires when businesses opened.
As the client was leaving, he took a decorative vase from the front desk of the firm on his way to the elevators. I was finishing up documents and didn't see it happen. Earlier in the week he'd been talking about taking some of our office chairs because they were nice and he was paying the bills anyway.
Long story short, client was a kleptomaniac and it cost the partner on the deal about $20k out of his own pocket because his client was stealing random items from our office.
Payment Up Front
I'm an employment lawyer. I was representing the guy accused of sexual harassment. He did it. It went poorly for him. I made sure I got paid up front.
My Brother's Stalker
I'm pretty sure the lawyer who served the girl who sued my brother had that same question for her.
My brother started dating the girl right after he and his first fiancé called things off. From the get-go this new girl was bat-sht. He brought her home to hang out and she burst into my room without warning to introduce herself and tried to hang out with me.
She told my brother she wanted him to get me, our mom, and our step-dad together downstairs so we could all meet and play board games. She found our dad and stepmom on Facebook and friended them. She was the weirdest clingy girl I've ever seen. My brother wasn't looking for that kind of relationship so he ended it with her.
This girl proceeded to fck with our house, his car, his friends, she started making calls to the local police saying she'd seen criminal mischief happening and she thought it was my brother. After months of trying to ignore her and hoping she'd go away it didn't work.
My brother came home and found her sitting on our porch with this other girl. Apparently they were in a relationship and they wanted my brother to have sex with them and get them pregnant so they could have kids. My brother snapped after months of stalking and basically threatened her with violence if she didn't leave him the hell alone.
A few weeks later he got served to show in court to determine an order of protection against him filed by that girl. He didn't bring a lawyer and he didn't expect her to have one.
Anyway, her lawyer started talking about how my brother had threatened his client and she felt like she was in danger and how my brother deserved to be locked up. She also tried to have him banned from being near the local elementary schools, for reasons unknown to us.
My brother was entitled to call witnesses so he called our mother, me, our stepdad, and the three friends. Each of us detailed the months of stalking and property destruction. Then my brother presented the photos he had of everything she'd done, the screenshots of messages sent to him, to me, to our relatives, on cellphone and social media.
Based on the look on her lawyer's face she hadn't mentioned (and had probably lied about it) she'd instigated everything. My brother was given an order of protection against her, that she ended up breaking a few weeks later. She moved away after she was released from county jail and last I heard she sells her body for drugs and money.
Do you have something to confess to George? Text "Secrets" or "" to +1 (310) 299-9390 to talk to him about it.