Its critical to hire an experienced attorney because the implications are serious and the punishments that you may be facing are serious. You could be looking at jail time, prison time, and a serious effect on your record. When the consequences are serious, you need a skilled professional to address them. Experience is the best way to deal with violent cases. Having the experience dealing with serious and violent crimes we know how to not overreact to the claims being made, we know how to question in a way that gets what we need out of the witnesses, we know what a good deal looks like, and we know when to strategically advise you to go to trial.
It takes a lot of skill to know what questions to ask of witnesses and what evidence needs to be developed. There is forensic evidence, eyewitness and other kinds of evidence. Forensic evidence meaning fingerprints, blood, fiber, DNA, and other related things. You want an attorney who is going to be able to handle them appropriately in court and understand the science involved. A skilled and experienced attorney will know how to manage the witnesses involved and ask the right questions in front of the jury. There are several factors that are written into the jury instructions in California that deal with the credibility of witnesses, if they are being honest and truthful, and whether they are reliable. When you hire the right attorney they will be able to either build up or tear down the credibility of the witnesses.
The human mind is not a camera, it doesn’t take a picture of people and then just recall the photograph when it sees the person again. It actually just remembers little details, such as the nose or the color of their hair or other similar feature and there are countless factors that go into whether this eyewitness identification is accurate. Was the person under stress, was it day or night, did the person have something in their hands? A skilled attorney will understand Cross Ratio Problems in identification – for example, people of one race are generally not very good at identifying people of another race. Eyewitness identifications are not as reliable as people think and a skilled and experienced defense attorney will capitalize on those questionable areas.
One quick example is when a person says, “I am sure, I’ll never forget that face. This is one of the most important things I’ve ever been involved in and I swear, I guarantee you, I feel so strongly about this,” it turns out that studies show that if they express it that way, they’re really no more likely to be correct than if they just say, “Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s him,” or, “I think that’s the person.” The strength of your belief in your correctness has nothing to do with being correct. You would think that if somebody is that sure, they must be right but it turns out they aren’t. It is not always because they are being dishonest – but many times they are just mistaken in their belief.
Several of our trials have started with the statement that it is a “case of mistaken identity.” Someone made a mistake, they thought they had the right person, and they didn’t. Jurors can relate to a story where you’re standing in line at the grocery and you see somebody a couple of lines over and you think “that’s Sally from high school.” You recognize her, you know her really well, and you used to do all kinds of stuff together so you are going to go up to see, “Sally”, and then – it’s not Sally, it’s somebody else. It looks a lot like Sally, it seems like Sally, but it’s just not. Now, are you being dishonest or are you just making a mistake? Is there any one of us who hasn’t had an experience like that? How many times have you had to say to somebody, “I thought you were somebody else, I am sorry about that?”
These are just a couple key examples of what a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney can do for you – from interpreting forensic evidence, consulting with expert witnesses, and attacking eyewitness identifications – you an attorney who is creative in their approach and thoughtful about the evidence.