Sometimes it may seem like a person charged with a crime really has no possibility of a defense once they are arrested. This is especially true in cases involving serious crimes where the prosecution has enough evidence to make a strong case against the defendant. However, there are a number of things criminal defense attorneys routinely do which can be very helpful. Even in the worst cases, they can usually at least negotiate for a more lenient sentence.
Young man faces harsh sentence for murder
An event in the Tulsa County courts involved a severe sentence for an 18 year old boy who murdered another teenager. The suspect had apparently got into some kind of argument with another young man who was 15 at the time. There were allegations that the victim had verbally and physically threatened him, and that the defendant feared retaliation in the form of gang violence. He shot the other teenager in an apartment on North Marion Ave and attempted to flee the area. During the trial, the prosecution made the jury aware of the fact that the victim was unarmed, while the defense raised theories related to self-defense and heat of passion.
The jury eventually found the defendant guilty and he may be sentenced to life in prison, but with the possibility of parole due to his age at the time he committed the crime.
How do defense attorneys become an important factor in sentencing?
Once a jury finds a defendant guilty and enters the sentencing phase, the hearing is mostly about hearing the testimony from victims and their families to help the judge come up with a fair punishment. However, before this point is where defense attorneys do most of their work, and their efforts can often affect a plea or sentence that is given to the defendant, especially when it makes a case more difficult for the state to prove.
From a strategic standpoint, there is a lot a criminal defense attorney can do for their clients before sentencing. One of the first things is to review the available evidence or lack of evidence. Certain witnesses may become unavailable, some evidence may be lost or mishandled, there are rules related to evidence and testimony where certain things can be excluded. Defense attorneys routinely file motions to suppress or other documents that are related to removing these pieces of evidence. If the prosecution realizes their case may become weaker and more difficult to prove beyond all reasonable doubt due to this lack of evidence, they may be content to close the case with a lesser sentence. In some cases, there may only be one crucial witness or piece of evidence. If that information cannot be introduced at trial, the case may go away entirely.
Even in cases where it seems like the state has a very strong case against a defendant, their attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to get a plea that is much more lenient than a sentence after a lengthy trial. Most experienced criminal defense attorneys will know the local prosecutors, and they are skilled at discussing the relative strengths and weaknesses of each case. Some pleas for felony cases can avoid jail time entirely if the person has no prior criminal record or the case is very weak.
As always, a lawyer should be consulted with the specifics of your charges and the facts surrounding the incident.
Speak with a criminal defense attorney today
There are lawyers in Tulsa and surrounding parts of Oklahoma who are ready to help defend you against the state’s charges. The Henderson Law Firm, PLLC is located downtown Tulsa and they handle all kinds of misdemeanor and felony cases for their clients.