Why Do Brooklyn Defense Lawyers Accept Guilty Clients?
As a defense attorney in Brooklyn, NY, I’m not just here for the wrongfully accused. I’m here for the guilty, too—a fact that many people have a hard time understanding.
Yet it is a defense lawyer’s duty to defend every client we accept, vigorously and to the best of our ability. This is part of what makes our adversarial legal system work. It is your right under the US Constitution.
In 1984, the Supreme Court said it best: “Of all the rights an accused person has, the right to be represented by counsel is by far the most pervasive, for it affects his ability to assert any other rights he may have.”
Indeed, I don’t even necessarily care if you’re guilty.
Here’s what you need to know.
There is a difference between legal guilt and factual guilt.
Factual guilt is the question of whether you actually committed the crime. This is the type of guilt that is pretty immaterial to us. We don’t tend to ask you whether you committed the crime or not. It’s not our job to find out.
Instead, defense lawyers are looking at legal guilt. This is whether the prosecution has enough evidence to see you convicted beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s a defense lawyer’s job to poke holes in that case and to find all the weaknesses we can. It’s not even our job to prove you are innocent. It’s our job to prove the prosecution’s case doesn’t hold water.
Should you tell your lawyer whether you’re guilty?
I don’t need to know. The fact is sometimes people who tell me they’re guilty are lying to protect someone else. To me, it’s impossible to know for sure, so I just focus on legal guilt. Factual guilt is pretty much immaterial to your case. It’s not my job to judge you. That’s the judge’s job!
Every day I also defend good people who made one big mistake. I do my best to minimize the impact that mistake will go on to make on their lives.
There are plenty of people out there who are all too willing to judge, condemn, and punish as harshly as possible. Defense lawyers stand as a counterbalance to that force.
The one thing I cannot do is lie about any factual information I know. But, things you tell me are protected by attorney-client privilege. It will be my job to determine the best legal strategy for your case based on the information I have.
I do urge you to tell me the truth about questions I ask. I may ask you to help me locate any exculpatory evidence that might exist. For example, if someone can attest to your whereabouts at a certain day or time then it’s a good idea to give me the contact information for that person.
Bottom line? If you’re in trouble, call me…even if you think you’re guilty.
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Neil S. Ruskin
188 Montague Street Suite 900
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Local: (718) 237-1547