Life as a Defendant
An arrest can be a traumatizing event, especially for those who never pictured themselves in that sort of situation. There will be so many different things running through one’s mind that it can be a little overwhelming at times. With that being said, here are some things that former clients were surprised by and often wish they had known along the way.
First, the entire process can take a long time. You may have been arrested in November, but sometimes, resolution can take anywhere from 3 months to a year, often times even longer depending on what stage at trial your case is resolved. You’d be amazed how long 6 months can feel with legal issues hanging over your head. Be prepared for the idea that this may take longer than you anticipated.
Views Toward Law Enforcement Can Change
Secondly, it can be hard to come out of an ordeal as a defendant without losing some respect for the local law enforcement. In some circumstances, officers might abuse their discretionary power in order to make an arrest, yet who challenges the police? In some cases, an officer’s affidavit is the only evidence presented, however the officer is not actually present during the proceedings (until trial). Additionally, some officers have admitted that they don’t remember the night or events in question. To put it in a more objective approach, a defendant can get arrested and the officer might never show up to court during the proceedings, yet the words he put on an affidavit could be used to convict a defendant and the officer may not even remember it. If the officer is mistaken on the affidavit, how could one expect to hold him accountable? You can imagine how frustrating this scenario could be for clients. You have a right to face your accuser, yet most accusers can’t be bothered to show up. This frustration is very real, especially if you feel like the officer got the pertinent facts wrong on the affidavit, and often times, it’s hard not to feel like all cops are the same as the arresting officer in your case.
This Process Does Not Make You a Bad Person
Another issue many clients encounter is that the entire process can leave them feeling demoralized and as if they are a bad person. This simply is not the truth. A mistake is not the story of your life. Experiences with the police and the judicial system in general are not uplifting ordeals, but your treatment at their hands should not define you. Everyone makes mistakes, however, how you handle the mistake is up to you. In my opinion, obtaining legal representation is a superior way to handle your mistake. But again, making a mistake does not necessarily make you a bad person.
Lastly, think long and hard about what outcome you seek and what it may cost in order to obtain the outcome. Not every client will seek the same outcome for identical crimes. Additionally, while monetary concerns are always the first thought when regarding cost, consider your time, freedom, and potential burdens that may come along with an adverse outcome. One cannot put a price tag on their time or the implications that may come with a conviction on their record. Trial may be an expensive, almost burdensome cost to some, but what about the cost of a DUI conviction to your reputation? Again, every outcome will not be the same and you have to decide what outcome you can live with and what you are willing to pay for that outcome in terms of time, money, and other mitigating factors.