Oct 06, 2017 Negotiating is steered by trial readiness, says Fairfax criminal lawyer
Negotiating through trial readiness
Negotiating in court must be steered by trial readiness. My work as a Virginia criminal lawyer constantly makes that clear. That negotiating might be to convince the prosecutor to dismiss the case with or without conditions, to agree to a later dismissal conditioned on fulfilling the agreed terms for dismissal, or an outright guilty or no contest plea.
Expect nothing from the prosecutor in negotiating or otherwise
The times are many when prosecutors have assured me that the case will reach a desirable settlement, and also when they have complained to me that I am disserving my client by proceeding to trial. Whether those approaches are heartfelt, mind games, or other high or low sport, they are all part of the prosecutor’s agenda. The prosecutor’s agenda is only important for me in informing me on the best way to proceed with settlement negotiations and with battling the prosecutor in court. My agenda is to serve my criminal client’s goals, which is to win, or else to reduce the possible harm from the case as much as possible.
A key element of successful negotiating is battle readiness
The only way for me to serve my client’s agenda is to be fully prepared for trial. Yes, some defendants exist who ask a criminal lawyer to reduce their fee quote with the defendant’s expectation of not needing to go to trial. However, I quote my fees to cover preparing for and going to trial. When a lawyer prepares a case to win, the case is more likely to settle, because everything the trial-prepared lawyer does speaks trial readiness and communicates the criminal defendant’s case in the most positive light. When a lawyer prepares a case to settle, the lawyer does not sufficiently understand the case’s strengths and weaknesses, and the case is more likely to go to trial, because the prosecutor will smell the blood of unpreparedness, making the prosecutor more confident about going for the kill. A criminal lawyer has an obligation to the client to be fully prepared for trial.
It is too cavalier to say “F*ck him; if the prosecutor declines negotiating a settlement favorable to the defense, we’ll go to trial.” The right approach is never to expect a favorable settlement in the first place, to prepare the case fully for trial, and then to always be negotiating from a position of strength. Fewer words are more powerful to a prosecutor’s ears than hearing a fully prepared criminal lawyer saying “Ready for trial.”
Virginia criminal lawyer/ Fairfax DWI attorney Jon Katz has tried hundreds of cases since 1991. His every move is on achieving as much victory as possible for each client. To discuss your case with Jon, please call his staff at 703-383-1100.