This is not so much a complaint about my clients, but rather, an observation. I'm continually struck by how many people think the criminal justice system is an equity court.
That means people think that things go "on the whole" in front of a judge - on one side of the scale is how the cops acted, how you've been keeping out of trouble, and how your friend jacked you up with his bullshit behavior, while on the other side rests what the cops say you did. In reality, it's a law court, which means it's about what the state can prove as to the elements (required building blocks) of any crime they accuse someone of. So all that stuff about what led up to the crime really does not matter in many contexts, nor does the fact that the cops were jerks when they booked you.
I'm just noting this because I've recently had a slew of clients in denial. I'm thinking of situations where it is a foregone conclusion that something will happen or not happen - I tell 'em this, and there's a kind of bullish pressure forward on the issue regardless. I'm not talking about innocence or guilt - I'm talking about the pratical realities of what's going to happen in a court of law.
To wit, a condensed and apocryphal conversation, taking place in one of the county jails.
SL: "How does it look? Dude, they have you on video, they have your DNA, and the cops say you spontaneously admitted you did this. You have no witnesses, and if you testify, the jury will hear about your 12 prior felony convictions. You're also facing a probation violation, which means the judge only has to think, "I think there's a 51% chance this guy violated his probation by committing this new crime," before he gets the ability to sentence you to 20 years on your probationary case. And that's Before we even try the new case, on which you're facing another 30 on top of the 20 for the case you're on probation for. Furthermore if you go down on the new case, the video/DNA case, there's a 10 year minimum mandatory, which means the absolute lowest the judge can give you is 10 years. So basically you can't win this, and you're looking at 10min, 50 max if we take this to hearings and trial. The state's offer is 4 years - just think about it."
Client: "I want my trial. You can't push a plea on me!"
SL: (20 min rehash of above)
Client: "I want my trial. You can't push a plea on me! People told me not to take any pleas from a public prentender - you're not fighting for me."
SL: "Trial it is then. I hope I'm wrong, but I figure you'll be able to talk about this with your "people" for a very very long time."