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Trial readiness drives successful criminal defense, says Fairfax lawyer

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Oct 30, 2020 Trial readiness drives successful criminal defense, says Fairfax lawyer

Trial readiness drives successful criminal defense, says Fairfax lawyer- Photo of Colosseum

Trial readiness drives successful criminal defense, says Fairfax lawyer

Trial readiness is not an option but a necessity, underlines Fairfax criminal lawyer

Trial for me is like breathing and brushing teeth. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer and Virginia DUI attorney, I know that being fully prepared for trial is a given. Truer than true is that being full trial readiness makes one’s Virginia criminal or DWI case more likely to favorably settle, and preparing the criminal case to settle is more likely to make it go to trial.

Your Virginia criminal arrest or summons already puts you into the criminal law’s crosshairs, leaving trial readiness as the only choice, says Fairfax criminal lawyer

As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I have learned that many Virginia criminal and DUI defendants are averse to trials and want to emphasize pursuing the best possible settlement. That concept might work in civil litigation where the defendant’s life, liberty, livelihood, reputation, security clearance, immigration status and healthcare licensing are not at stake, rather than contractual, property and regulatory disputes. However, a Virginia criminal prosecution puts the criminal or DWI defendant at the crosshairs of the criminal law, making the defendant a sitting duck until obtaining a fully qualified lawyer to well-defend the accused with trial readiness and working closely with that lawyer on the best possible path to victory.

Does trial readiness — versus negotiating a plea deal — make more financial sense for me as a Virginia criminal or DUI defendant?

In the business world, it may well make sense for a company to tell it’s lawyer: “My litigation budget is $-x—.00. Once we exhaust that budget, I will settle for the best resolution that can be reached at that time.” This usually assumes hourly billing by the company’s law firm and that the commercial litigation involves business decisionmaking and budgeting as to trial readiness.

In the Virginia criminal defense world, though, the billing (typically by me) often is at a flat fee (or else series of flat fees), and decisionmaking is not about business decisions, unless the criminal defendant is a corporation in a white collar crime prosecution, for instance in the recent case of drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma’s financially crippling guilty plea deal over opiates, but about one’s life, liberty, and above-referenced collateral consequences. Trial readiness is critical.

Does this mean I should not try to cooperate with police and prosecutors in my felony drug case to engage in sentencing damage control?

As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that federal felony prosecutions have a high percentage of convictions, but in some respects that is a self-fulfilling prophecy with so many federal criminal defendants pleading guilty based on those high conviction numbers. Truthfully sad, a slew of drug felony defendants — in desparation not to spend the rest of their natural or else youthful lives in prison, rush to federal prosecutors with their lawyers to tell everything they know about others’ crimes and their own, and to testify at all grand jury and petit jury proceedings to which they are called to do so. Nonetheless, even they need a plan B in the event all that cooperation and snitching does not get them where they want to be. Plan B is full trial readiness.

Trial readiness is the only way to win, unless the case gets dismissed pretrial

As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I remind my clients that the only two ways to win against a Virginia felony, misdemeanor or DUI prosecution is to go to trial — with full trial readiness — unless the case gets dismissed. Yes, a trial can feel like a free-fall with no safety net, but having the right Virginia criminal defense lawyer coupled with working closely with that lawyer helps prepare that safety net. Even in spheres that have high conviction rates, having the right lawyer can increase one’s chances at acquittal, as Geoffrey Feiger saw with his lawyer (and my teacher) Gerry Spence in his campaign finance prosecution, and as former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell ultimately saw with his Supreme Court victory that reversed his public corruption conviction.

With a trial-skilled Virginia criminal lawyer, you can reverse and offset otherwise uneven criminal court playing fields, including in Fairfax cases that involve no prosecutor involvement

With Fairfax prosecutors as an example (where the chief prosecutor stopped prosecuting most non-DUI and non-domestic assault misdemeanors until he secures funding for more prosecutors), Virginia prosecutors tend to have large caseloads, requiring them to pick and choose which cases to more carefully and fully prepare for. When a Virginia criminal defendant hires a qualified lawyer who is relevantly skilled in taking cases to trial before a judge and jury, and who will fully prepare their case for trial, that not only enhances the Virginia criminal defendant’s prospects of success at trial, but also of great importance is that the prosecutors know who the skilled trial lawyers are and their trial readiness, at least if those lawyers go to trial often enough, which I do.

In Fairfax criminal defense, negotiating is no longer as much of a reality when prosecutors opt out of prosecuting most misdemeanor cases

Virginia prosecutors are not legally obligated to prosecute misdemeanors, and the Fairfax commonwealth’s attorney’s office no longer prosecutes most non-DUI and non-domestic assault misdemeanor cases. Fairfax judges should not be expected to agree for case police officers to fill the negotiating shoes of prosecutors, lest the law enforcement officer the ends up practicing law without a law license. In the Fairfax prosecutor-less misdemeanor scenario, the Virginia criminal defendant has no logical choice other than full trial readiness.

Virginia criminal trials are risks, but risks that can pay off with full trial readiness with the right lawyer

For those people who did knowingly expose themselves to a Virginia criminal arrest, I sometimes suggest that they took a risk by not waiting longer before getting behind the wheel in their DUI case, by not being more discreet in handling the drug sale that turned up an undercover police officer, or by putting their hand in the employer’s till in their embezzlement case. Therefore, risk-taking is not a new concept for such clients when I tell them of the importance of calculated risk-taking in deciding whether to proceed to trial and how to handle settlement negotiations. Trial readiness is beyond important.

Are you more ready to settle a dispute with an opponent who is fully armed and knows how to use those weapons, or with an amateur carrying a toy gun from K-Mart?

The answer is obvious. Nobody negotiates with a wet noodle, but of course will negotiate with an opponent armed to the teeth with submachine guns, machetes and flame throwers. Virginia criminal defendants do not choose to be thown into the courthouse arena, but they are already there. To go to court as a defenseless lamb rather than as a battle-ready and fearless lion with full trial readiness makes no sense. Being trial-ready is essential in Virginia criminal defense.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz pursues your best defense, with full trial readiness against Virginia felony, misdemeanor & DUI prosecutions. Call 703-383-1100 for a free in-person completelty confidential consultation with Jon Katz about your court-pending criminal defense. 

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