Sunday, July 02, 2006

This is for Fred

I have decided that it is necessary to explain what my job as a defence solicitor involves. From time to time I get comments posted on this blog that make it necessary for me to explain what my role in the criminal justice system involves. A poster called Fred recently commented:
"Hopefully if you get the scum bail he will knife one of your family."
I replied to Fred suggesting that his comment was a little uncalled for and he was kind enough to write:
"Gavin, not really, I never carry a knife and have never committed any crime. I have had friends and family who have been victims of your 'clients' and I stand by what I said. Get them off on a technicality and I hope they come after you and yours. We are all very fed up with the CJ system so you had better get used to the criticism."
I am a criminal defence solicitor. I am employed by a firm of solicitors and the only legal work that I do for that firm is criminal defence work. I do not prosecute cases. My work will mean that I am generally involved in cases in three ways:

1. Police Station work. I will go to Police Stations to advise and assist people who have been arrested and are to be interviewed under the terms of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. This will generally mean arriving at the Police Station, speaking to the Officer dealing with the case and getting disclosure from that Officer, having a consultation with my Client, and then being present when the Client is interviewed.

2. Magistrates/Youth Court work. As a solicitor I have rights of audience in the Magistrates and Youth Courts to deal with all hearings related to crime. I will represent people who appear for guilty pleas, or trials. I will also prepare these cases by taking instructions from the Clients and consider the evidence served in their case.

3. Crown Court work. I have limited rights of audience in the Crown Court so I will generally only do the advocacy for Crown Court bail applications. The remainder of work that I do for Crown Court work is taking Clients instructions, preparing their case for trial/sentence, briefing and liaising with their barrister, and from time to time attending at the Crown Court with the Client and their barrister for hearings.

As a criminal defence solicitor I will:

i. Act in the best interests of my Client;
ii. Represent my Client to the best of my ability; or
iii. Try to secure the best possible result for my Client.

As a criminal defence solicitor I will not:

i. Make up instructions for my Clients to give to either the Police or a Court;
ii. Allow Clients to tell the Police or Court something different to what they have told me already;
iii. Lie to the Police or allow a Court to be misled; or
iv. Tell the Police or Court if my Client admits to a crime.

I am bound by professional ethics. I cannot, and will not, lie on behalf of a Client. If a Client tells me that he has actually committed a crime and then wants to tell the Police or a Court a different story then I cannot represent him if he is going to give that second account. If A client tells me that he has committed a crime then I can continue to represent him provided that all I do is put the prosecution to proof and not put the Clients account forward.

The Police investigate crimes and gather evidence. The Crown Prosecution Service, generally, prosecute matters in criminal courts. As a criminal defence solicitor I defend. If a Client admits they have committed a crime to me I do not go and tell the Police or the Court that the Client has committed a crime.

You may find that the kind of work that I am involved in is objectionable. You may disagree that people who have committed a crime should be allowed access to a defence solicitor. You may disagree that where evidence is overwhelming that a defendant should be able to challenge that evidence in our Courts with the benefit of a defence solicitor. In the United Kingdom, as in many other countries around this world, we have freedom of speech and everyone is entitled to their own opinion - even Fred. But, should you ever be arrested where you have not committed a crime would you not want the best possible defence? Would you not want access to legal advice and assistance? Would you not want a solicitor that is prepared to fight on your behalf against the Police and Crown Prosecution Service?

Most people who are arrested are not innocent. Conviction rates in the Magistrates Courts and Crown Courts are something like 92% to 95% of people who appear before the Court are convicted of a crime. Some defendants walk away from Court on technicalities because someone has failed to do their job properly, be it because a witness cannot perform well when giving evidence, or perhaps a Police Officer did not investigate a piece of evidence, or even maybe a Crown Prosecutor failed to consider certain evidence. I do come across some Clients who appear to be genuine and say that they are innocent. It is very rare for me to ever believe a person who tells me that they are innocent, but, every few months there is one case where I actually believe that I am representing an innocent party. If you were that innocent party would you not want a solicitor to fight on your behalf?

I regularly come in to contact with criminals who I try to divert away from crime. There are youths who have had pretty poor starts in life who I try to show if they continue doing what they are currently doing then they will end up in prison wasting their life away. There are also drug users who I try to educate to ensure that they stay alive and do not kill themselves at an early age.

I am a defence solicitor, nothing more, nothing less. This is what I do.

31 comments:

Jobrag said...

Perhaps if Fred went to see A man for all Seasons he'd have a different opinion.

Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast - man's laws, not God's - and if you cut them down - and you're just the man to do it - d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake

Ed said...

Dear Gavin
You might like to get a copy of the just published 'The Lincoln Lawyer' by Michael Connelly for your holiday reading... a pretty good US legal thriller, with a little of the 'why defend the bad' and 'what if they're innocent' as a theme. I'm confident that you're a world away from the legal hair splitting to excuse the guilty the 'hero' of the book employs !

Lennie Briscoe said...

Like all members C(i)JS I fully respect the part you play and the job you do.

I think many frustrated people just blame the person at the sharp end as it is the easiest thing to do. How does Joe Public know that the sentencing guidelines council imposes restrictions that give the impression of lax justice? How does Joe know that the law has recently changed allowing the police to impound vehicles if they are not tax or insured propperly... We all get blamed and no one ever seems to listen when we point the finger at the government... Thats life. Cigar?

Mark said...

A very good post Gavin, which states your case extremely well.

I know you will have a reasonable answer for this, but how does the following;

"ii. Allow Clients to tell the Police or Court something different to what they have told me already;"

not clash with this;

"If A client tells me that he has committed a crime then I can continue to represent him provided that all I do is put the prosecution to proof and not put the Clients account forward."?

Although I respect the work Defence solicitors do, I often find it very difficult to accept the moral ambiguities involved. For instance, when I hear the Defence outline the motives/behaviour/future intentions of a client and make them sound like a saint, when the Solicitor, client, Police and (hopefully) Magistrates know that it is utter bollocks. I appreciate that you have to do your best, but don't you find you are often called on to lie, albeit by manipulating the truth as opposed to stating black is white (although I have heard the Defence claim things akin to this)?

I am a bobby by the way and I really enjoy reading your blog. I have often wanted to go for a pint with a defence solicitor and go through their opinions and feelings about things, particularly the local solicitor who appears to be a really nice bloke (outside Court of course).

Anonymous said...

Gavin,

I agree with Mark's comments. A really good post that puts over your point of view about what you do. However, you must know that police officers arrest the same 5% of the population 95% of the time - and even though solicitors spend years studying to become qualified, i struggle to comprehend why so many solicitors tell their clients to simply make 'no comment'. This is despite having ample disclosure.

What kind of justice system pays peanuts to its prosecutors, (allowing all the best ones to leave and do defence work), allows suspects not say anything at all unless there are compelling reasons that mean a jury can take inference from their silence - and finally, after struggling to get CPS to prosecute something and obtain a conviction, criminals are given unduly lenient sentences because the prisons are overflowing?

Gavin - surely you can understand the public's frustration when you tell them what you do because ultimately we all know someone who has been a victim of crime. Unfortunately it usually involves a crime of violence or theft and these are emotive crimes often commited against society's vulnerable victims - the young, the elderly and those who don't have a lot in the first place - or those who are simply working to pay the bills.

You don't see those victims. All your firm will care about is building up a reputation for 'getting people off' so that more suspects/criminals in the area will ask for your firm's services.

The law abiding majority want to see justice done and that means convicting people who have committed a crime. You assist some people to avoid being convicted whether you're prepared to admit that to yourself or not - and that's why people don't like defence solicitors.

I'm sure you're a really nice bloke though. Great blog - thanks for the chance to debate the issue.

Regards,
Peter

silverfox said...

everybody wants to see accused people convicted until they are or know the accused.

Then they want to assert their rights and proclaim their innocence.And they want a legally qualified individual to do it for them.

But thats all right because they are decent people who deserve a defence.

But representing bad people, how dare we!!!!

Hypocrisy on a grand scale.

There is a prerogative at the moment re asserting victims rights to the detriment of suspects rights.

which may be fine when the victim is a little old lady in a burgled house and the suspect is druggie scum.

But what as in the 99% of cases which are not that straightforward? (go to the superb policemans blog on the sidebar to learn how victims one day are suspects the next, and vice versa).

What about people who are arrested wrongly, or worse by bent policemen. (and it may only be one in 10,000 cases, but it does happen).

Should they not have some-one of equivalent training to the prosecutor to stand up and put their side (given that the vast majority of suspects are incapable of stringing together coherent, logical and relevant thoughts)

And as to the point as to why people should be allowed to say nothing. Whats next, people being forced to talk, bright lights in faces, bamboo rods up the toenails, truth serum?


The point about putting the prosecution to proof is not morally ambiguous at all. The state with all its resources has to be able to demonstrate by way of admissible evidence that the offence may have been committed. If it cannot then the case against any individual fails.

Spend a week in the magistrates court with a defence solicitor and I guarantee your view of them would change, enormously.

The Enforcer said...

Defence solicitors aren't always my favourite people (I've had too many pre-sentence reports misrepresented in court for that!) but I have a huge amount of respect for those who taken on a task that is often as thankless as that of a probation officer (possibly better remunerated though).

Andy said...

The only objections I will add to what you say above are:

1. Every defence solicitor I have had to work with so far (and I do mean every one) has spoken to me (I'm a police officer) like I am the scum of the earth and their client should be released no matter what. They look down on police, and most abuse the system. One even got thrown out of the police station for using her mobile whilst in conference with her client.

2. Some of the above mentioned are far too self reiteous, I had one solicitor who, when asked to state her name and the company she worked for at the begining of an interview did so and then spen a further 5 minutes explaining "for the benefit of the tape" what she would and would not allow me to do and say, (as I'm sure you're aware it's rather anoying having a pedantic whineing person telling you how to do your job, let alone a flippin runner fo a solicitor that couldn't be bothered or was too busy to come himself!!!!!)

3. I always try and be nice to solicitors and they nearly always take advantage of that and percieve it to mean that they can screw me in disclosure or in interview! IT DOESN'T WORK!


That all said I'm sure there are some friendly, nice, honest defence solicitors out there, they just don't work in my area!! :) There is even one that freely admits he instructs all of his clients to go no comment (again a runner) just so that they can get bail!

I'm sure you're one of the nice ones though!!

Emily said...

Thank you for that explanation Gavin, I am a law student and getting to grips with things at the moment; I have been reading your blog since it started and will continue to do so - you have explained things very well.

Anonymous said...

i don't think you're a great bloke, unlike others.
i think you're a parasite. every penny you earn defending the same chav scum on the same offences keeps old ladies living in fear in their homes.
get another job, mate. it might not pay as well but you'd be able to look yourself in the mirror.

Mark said...

Anon, that's just bollocks, barely worth the time it has taken me to type this response.


Gavin, have you blogged on the issue of payment for defence solicitors? I would be extremely interested to hear your views on this and perhaps to have a bit of a debate regarding early pleas by defendants and the financial implications.

Nick D said...

Anon, you are an ignorant prick. If you had any sense then you'd see why the world needs people to defend others in court.

I bet that you are the sort of knob-jocky who reads the Wank of the World and believes every single thing that they print! Were you one of the twats who attacked the paediatrician because you didn't know the difference between paediatrician and paedophile?

Wanker.

ancient tomes said...

Anon:

Will you be singing the same tune if you're arrested for a crime tomorrow?

'course you bloody won't. You'll be demanding your phone call and legal aid, and you'll get them, and they'll prove you innocent.

Some defence solicitors are scumbags, of course. But then some lifeguards and doctors are scumbags as well. Tarring everyone with the same brush just because their job has a lousy image, and after a civil and dignified post such as this one (which is, let's remember, in response to somebody wishing the poster's family dead), is ignorant and frankly embarassing. I hope you've recently had a raw deal at the hands of the courts and are letting off steam, and that your world view isn't really as simplistic as it sounds.

Anonymous said...

Commenting on blogs like drinking should not be done on an empty head.

Mark asks about payment for criminal defence work and financial incentives. The public misconception is that there is such an incentive in the prolonging cases. This could, in general, not be further from the truth.

A guilty plea matter, speedily sentenced earns a lawyer £203.80 (inc VAT) regardless of how much actual time was expended. So if that case has taken 1.5 hours actual work (calculated at £47.90 p/h) there is quite a lot of profit and the criminal defence lawyer is working at an hourly rate roughly equivalent to private civil lawyers. This is rarely the case and all the delaying factors are usually outside the defences control. The primary financial incentive in the scheme is therefore to conclude cases as early as possible.

Current proposals are for an even tighter standard fee regime.

SP

Mark said...

"Commenting on blogs like drinking should not be done on an empty head."

Interesting to lead your comment with an insult, was it aimed at me?

Are you saying that defence solicitors do not get paid per Court appearance? It was my understanding that every adjournment lead to a further payment. It isn't only my understanding come to think of it, as I based my thinking on CPS' and Ushers' comments.

I was also under the impression that consideration was being given by the Government to introducing a flat-fee system whereby defence solicitors would get paid per client as opposed to per amount of work done.

Pleader said...

As a defence solicitor, I'd say my job entails defence of the presumption of innocence, not necessarily innocence itself. It is that presumption which is important. Defending innocent clients is a nightmare, the stakes are so high.

As for coppers, some are very decent, and I be as forthcoming and fair with them as possible. Most just seem to be doing their job, they get the credit they deserve. some are righteous bastards, they get what's coming.

We get paid per client, it pays to wrap it up quickly (ie plead guilty and finalise).

What amazes me is the number of lawyers who go the extra yard, keep a personal sense of ethics and remain somewhat interesting individuals through it all.

Good post.

Anonymous said...

Mark

No the initial comment was aimed at anon.

You and the others are understandably mistaken. CDS lawyers get paid a "standard fee" on conclusion of a case. They tot up the work done (charged at £47.90 p/h out of London) and compare this to a predetermined limit which then determines whether they get a lower of higher standard fee. Nationally around 85% of claims in the magistrates courts are lower standard fees. There is no automatic payment per hearing and in 85% of cases the financial incentive is to conclude quickly with as little time expended as possible.

On the remaining 15% of cases there is possibly some minor advantage in prolonging matters however running cases to maximise profit from a higher standard fee is almost impossible. More often than not firms end up being paid at or below the basic £49 rate. If you go beyond the higher standard fee range (approx 3-5 of the 15% quoted above) you will only get the basic rate.

"What Car" surveyed charging rates for main dealer car mechanics earlier this year. These BEGAN (coincidentally) at £49 and ranged as high as £140.

You are correct that Lord Carters current review, due to report tomorrow, proposes an even harsher regime.

Sorry if the above is incomprehensible I have clients who's Senior Partners still do not understand the standard fee scheme let alone understand who to maximise profit within it. But take my word for it deliberately prolonging mags court cases is not such a strategy.

SP

Mark said...

SP, thankyou for your detailed reply. I do understand it, but find it counter-intuitive, based on what seems to be commonly accepted as fact amongst people I speak to. That said, other things commonly accepted as fact amongst the same people include;

1) The job is f***ed (although listening to older bobbies, you get the impression that it has been since Robert PEEL was in short pants).
2) No-one above the rank of Insp can tie their shoelaces without step-by-step instructions.

Thanks for that, I shall bear that in mind in future dealings.

Anonymous said...

When I was in law school one of our professors (former judge) was fond of saying: "A defense attorney's only job is demand that the state do theirs. That is justice. If your client is convicted because the state did their job (forcing the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt every element of the crime) then you've done justice for him."
cbi

Tom Paine said...

I did your job for a while after I qualified, but did not have the right sensibility for it. I have great respect for those who do. The time "on my feet" was OK but hanging around the courts, in cells and in prisons chatting to (mostly) inarticulate clients drove me nuts, as did the hostility of (some) policemen. I don't understand that hostility. In Poland, where I lived for some years, the police regarded all lawyers as colleagues and even turned a blind eye to minor infractions on production of an advocate's ID card. Surely the British police don't expect to bang up anyone they dislike without process of law? I am sure not, but some give that impression, and Tony "Judge Dredd" Blair seems to want to give them the chance.

My colleagues during my brief stint as a "brief" were impressively dedicated, with a quiet sense of the value of what they did. They were right. Nothing is more important in a free society. Don't waste your precious time on "rude anon". At least he has enough shame to be anonymous.

As for the comments about pay and costs, how you make a living on those hourly rates is entirely beyond me. They are less than one-tenth what my commercial clients pay my firm for me.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy your blog and practice in the US. What you said in this post applies with equal force here. You would be right at home here in the US.

Anonymous said...

Gavin, as a member of the constabulary I have no problem in what you do in the slightest and I'm some what annoyed that people need to become offensive because you are a defense brief. I can honestly say that if you do your job and the client is acquitted clearly I didn't do mine (though I'll blame the CPS). Fair play crack on and enjoy. Afterall if you're that good, as one defense solicitor is in my area, you'll probably have to defend me one day.

Anonymous said...

I check by here every day, but it seems the blogging has now stopped. Is Gavin away on hols or has he given up now?

Anonymous said...

Gavin,

As a hard working detective on a south london murder team I deal with you "sort" quite a lot.
It may suprise you to know that I generally have a lot of time for both legal reps and solicitors, there are of course the rude and arrogant types who never fail to get my back up, but I am sure that you come across the same when an arrogant DC sneers at you when giving disclosure.
You are an important part of the checks and balances to ensure justice, if we didnt have those checks then we would all be guilty until proven innocent, and that would be an unlikely event indeed.
Now for some people that would be great, until of course it was them, their family or friends were arrested (by men in black in the night) and then of course it would all be different wouldnt it !
Keep up the good work and please please no more "no comments" Interviews ! They make my brain hurt thinking up questions.

Anonymous said...

As a trainee solicitor who has recently started representing clients at police stations its been quite interesting to read the various responses to Gavin's initial piece on the role of a defence solicitor. I'd like to make the following points:

1) Remuneration rates are, in comparison with private/corporate lawyers, poor. This situation is only likely to worsen once Carter has his way. Any idea that defence solicitors by and large are 'rolling in it'is misconceived.

2) Half of the police officers i have dealt with over the past 2 months have been perfectly fine with me. There have been a couple of occassions where individuals have blatantly tried to keep things back during disclosure but this has been an exception rather than the rule. I have been shouted at by one ID suite officer for no reason at all. Its officers like that who paint a bad image for the rest.

3)Understand that 'no comment' interviews are advisable for a range of reasons. When i go to a police station it is never ever personal between me and an officer. I would never advise a client to no comment just to annoy the police. All i think about is acting in clients best interests. If client is particularly vulnerable and likely to talk themselves into trouble (without maybe having done anything or comprehending the criminality of a certain act): no comment; if the evidence is weak: no comment; the client has no credible account to give at all: no comment; if client admits guilt and will plead guilty at court: no comment - there is nothing to gain by giving an account sometimes!

First time on this site - i like the interaction with various memebers of the criminal justice system. Keep it up!

reflectingdippy said...

i just ask wen your talknig about pay and the quicker it thru the better surely this is only if the matter is kept in the magistrates is this the same in the crown and surely there must be exceptions to the rule if so how do they work

Anonymous said...

Having recently had my life ruined by police officers and cps who just don't know when to stop, who will prosecute the most trivial of suspected crimes, to hell that it does to a persons family and children, I view defence lawyers with a great deal of respect. In the UK the defendant will be railroaded into pleading guilty by means of blackmail (we'll need to interview your boss, wife, mistress etc, your wife though you were at the pub but you were at miss smiths house etc). Most 'first timers' are like lambs to the slaughter, defence lawyers are the one and only line of defence from a system with no ethics, run by people with screwed up ethics.

Douane said...

I work for Revenue & Customs investigating crime under our responsibility. Our prosecuting authority is the Revenue & Customs Prosecutions Office, an independent Government department much like the CPS is to the Police. My dealings with defence solicitors have always been good (bar last week when one I hadn't seen before acted like a cock). Very occasionally there is an odd skirmish but professionalism on both sides prevents it getting personal! Come the point of charging the solicitor will make their representations concerning bail, we will make ours and the Police Custody Sargeant will mull these opposing views over. (HMRC cannot charge people themselves). I have to admit that I do wonder how often a defence solicitor thinks their client is actually innocent of a crime or how often they think a client is actually guilty! Either way they have to behave ethically as do we. In my opinion whether you're a defence solicitor, prosecuting lawyer or law enforcement officer etc, you're basically a mercinary. You might not always believe in what you're doing but you'll pick up the fee / wage for it. Isn't that the truth about other jobs though? On the point of lawyers who work in the public sector, there are very many good ones. They are not there because they are incapable, moreso they prefer not to work in the defence field where you, as a defence solicitor, can be called out at 3:00 a.m. and drive 30 miles to a Police Station, (or customs office). Most have done that and want a family life and a regular income of £45K+ p.a. Mind you, if I had studied for 6 years for a law degree and the rest, I wouldn't want to sit in grubby cells, I'd work in the commercial sector. The number of criminal lawyers who have said to me its so boring, that criminal work is more interesting staggers me. Forget that, I'll have the commercial money thanks! This looks like a good blog.

braindead said...

I have read some crap in my time but this beats all....give yourself a blue peter badge!!!!why don't you do something really meritourious like heping kids with education who cannot access maistream school - the closest that you have ever been to criminal porceedings is just that- it would be nice if the Police were honest and decent but thats a joke then perhaps if the british system was more about justice and less about police ego's police officers lack of intelligence bigotry and gratifcation of the persecution of the poor(who can afford legal aid)the innocent (police involvment is hazadous to social and moral dignity)then you might have some kudos is what you say......but as we know the british legal system is as bend and as warped as the indviduals that abuse it!!!!! you recepient of the system

dsrok said...

Anonymous said... "What kind of justice system pays peanuts to its prosecutors, (allowing all the best ones to leave and do defence work)"
In the last 15 years where I am based I cannot think of one prosecutor who has jumped to private practice defence.... why the hell would they? prosecutors = good pay, great benefits ie pension PHC flexi time etc etc. Defence lawyers - just look at half the posts on this blog - abuse!! On the other hand I can think of many, many defence lawyers who have jumped ship to prosecute - most of which would prefer to be in defence but for the benefits outlined have, for financial security, switched. Yes defence lawyers are detached to a certain point but all lawywers at the end of the day are. your job as a lawyer is to win at the end of the day. Gavin's post is excellent and he does a fantastic job and yes he may get defendants acquitted of offences they have committed but he does not know in most cases that the defendant is guilty and thus has nothing to feel guilty about. He is acting on their instructions. He is not judge and jury as previously stated. We have a judical system for that purpose. The rules are there to protect the innocent and yes that does mean that guilty people are acquitted often but that can be put down to prosecuting lawywers not just defence lawyers - defence lawyers can only work with the material they are given... if the evidence isnt there....

SarahTheDefender said...

I'm new to this site. I have been a defence solicitor for 10 years. I have lost count of the number of time I have been asked how i can sleep at night etc..

I would say to anyone who questions the morals of a defence lawyer or suggests that our houses should be burgled this - someone has to do the job.

You may think the world would be better if the 'scumbags' were undefended but the following would be the inevitable consequence, and these are all examples of cases i have defended in the last year;

1) Client accused of rape of ex-girlfriend. Charged, pleads not guilty, spends 9 monts on remand awaiting trial. Request for details of previous complaints made by 'victim' made in week 3 of the case. CPS drag their feet. Day before trial CPS finally respond to request "6 previous rape allegations by same woman against 6 different men, 3 proved to be lies, victim had psychiatric problems". Prosecution offer no evidence. Client released. That client could not have conducted his own defence as he had the educational abilities of a 13 year old.

2) Man charged with nasty assault on wife. Very unpleasant, argumentitive violent man who will not take advice, listen to anything and was the most obtectionable client i have ever met. Prosecution rightly apply for special measures (for wife to give evidence behind a screen as she is so frightened of husband). Trial takes place, wife shakes and cries in cross examination by defence lawyer (court commented in judgement that the cross-examination of this witness was professional and appropriate). Surely better a lawyer cross examining than the wifebeating client?? What state would the woman have been in with the husband doing the cross examining.

3) Juvenile defendant charged with assaulting adult neighbour. Only witnesses were adult neighbours wife, son and two daughters. Juvenile defendant (very well spoken and polite young man)claims the whole thing was made up by adult neighbour and his family. Trial takes place. Client convicted. Adult neighbour heard in shop near to court by member of court staff saying to his wife "I can't believe we pulled that one off.. that'll teach him for mouthing off at me". Some people are actually innocent!!

4) Paranoid Scizophrenic, clearly bonkers assaults sweet old lady. Defending people is not just about getting them off. This guy had never ever been diagnosed with serious mental health problems as he had not seen fit to find the help himself. He was properly assessed and rightly placed in a secure psychiatric hospital where he could be given the right help. Unrepresented he would have probably pleaded guilty and been given community work.

I could go on...

Yes 90% of our clients are as you would say scumbags but many are not. The 90% who are scumbags if not represented would plead not guilty to pretty much everything, go no comment to pretty much everything and be left to cross examine witnesses at trials themselves and ask completely irrelevant and inappropriate questions.

I actually like to think the world is a better place with criminal lawyers in it. The system I'm afriad would fall apart without all the parts in it. Myself and my colleagues are often thanked for giving the right advice at the right time to clients. I'm sorry to say that without the powers of persuasion on our part to encourage our clients to plead guilty when its right that they should many clients simply wouldn't and the victims of the most awful crimes would have to face the trauma of giving evidence.

I hope that police officers, prosecutors and members of the public understand that we do an important job. We cannot pick and choose which clients we represent, its only when you scratch below the surface that the truth comes becomes clear.