I Don’t Care Whether You Did It

The Question Is Whether They Can Prove It.

Criminal defense lawyers need the absolute truth from the clients about whether they did the act they’re charged with. We need to know the truth so we don’t walk into traps that harm the client’s case because we don’t know all the facts.

It is literally true that I don’t care whether you committed the act or not. It’s the prosecution’s duty to prove to the court that you did it. If they can’t prove it, then you could still be acquitted. If they can prove it, then perhaps a plea deal should be worked out.

I have no problem seeking the acquittal of a client who has admitted guilt to me. It is my duty as a zealous advocate to protect clients (a) from cases that can’t be proved, or (b) cut their losses if the case can be proved. It may make it far more difficult calling the client as a witness in his own behalf, but still: Can the prosecution prove its case? Culpable or not, if they can’t prove it, you are legally not guilty.

Self-defense is an example: You shot somebody. Were you acting in self-defense or defense of somebody else in danger? Did the person you shot deserve it? Did you have no choice; i.e., was it him or you? All these questions are for trial and even to try to persuade a prosecutor to not take a case to trial.

John Wesley Hall is an accomplished criminal trial lawyer who has tried at least 350 jury trials and literally written the book on trial procedure in Arkansas: The TRIAL HANDBOOK FOR ARKANSAS LAWYERS (4th ed. 2018) published by Thomson Reuters, America’s premier law book publisher.