Calls for consultation often ask me their chances for conviction or acquittal. Mind you, this is with no investigation for review, not having interviewed one witness, and based solely on about a ten-minute recitation of “the facts.”
What are the chances for conviction or acquittal? I have no idea. I do not have a crystal ball, and I have no way to know.
When people ask their chances of conviction, I plainly state that no one knows the result of a given case until those fate-filled words “Accused and Defense Counsel, please rise” and the verdict (findings are/ ) is announced. No one.
On an initial consultation or otherwise, I also do not believe it is ethical to give an opinion regarding outcome even after extensive investigation and discovery of a case file.
I explain that heading into trial I see the case in one of two ways – do I have something to say (to the jury) or not? If I don’t have something to say, do I have a strategy to keep out the evidence required for conviction (such as on a “paper case” like BAH fraud)? There is not any other comment about degrees or percentages or chances. I work on every case expecting to lose; it is in the appropriately controlled fear and anxiety that inspiration and motivation remain peak. As soon as you expect to win, you should expect to lose. For me, it is a form of “act hunger” about getting to the right result.
I am especially not in a position to judge or evaluate a case without having access to a case file or my own independent investigation. This question, like many during an initial consultation, tells me that the caller’s worry is (understandably) high. They want answers to the unanswerable because they feel alone, isolated, and scared. Making that call to reach out for help is a vital step in surviving the marathon (not sprint) that they just joined unwittingly.
This blog post is part of a series…
- No Crystal Ball For Military Justice
- How Likely Is It That I Won’t Be Charged?
- Is My Retained Civilian Lawyer Doing What He Should Be?
- Does It Sound Like My Military Counsel Will Be Enough To Successfully Represent Me In My Trial
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