Although a lot of people joke about lawyers being a hassle to work with, when push comes to shove, the right lawyer can mean the difference between guilty and not guilty. Your lawyer should speak for you and say what you want to say. But what happens when a lawyer and his client are not of the same mind? A source tells of such a criminal case.
On February 10, 2005, Jack W was convicted of two counts of 1st degree robbery. He appealed to have a retrial and to be given a different lawyer, on the basis that his lawyer, Joseph D, did not represent him properly. Washington said that he did not authorize his lawyer to admit in court that he was guilty of 2nd degree robbery.
According to reports, W was arrested on September 2003 for participating in a robbery. He and others showed their handguns to the store manager and successfully took money from him and from a customer who entered the store.
During the trial, the first lines of D’s presentation was that Washington did not dispute that he participated in the robbery and that he would not ask the jury to excuse him for that. He asked the jury to consider instead that he was guilty of 2nd degree robbery instead of first degree robbery.
According to a rep, 1st degree robbery is robbery with the use of a deadly weapon. Second degree robbery, on the other hand, is robbery with the use of non-deadly force. Second degree robbery is a lesser offense and has a lighter sentence.
The first witness that D called in was the store manager. The questions that he asked were all related to the guns. According to reports, it was after the cross examination that Washington and D began to argue.
Washington announced to the court that he was innocent and that he did not agree for D to say that he was guilty of 2nd degree robbery. He also said that he had told his lawyer “not to try my case like that”.
D said that given the evidence showing that W was involved in the robbery, he didn’t want to waste his time proving otherwise. Instead, he wanted to focus on his opponent’s weak point, which was that there was no proof that the guns were loaded.
The Court of Appeals note that this is an effective strategy. Given the overwhelming evidence, including DNA tests, there seemed to be no doubt that W would be proven guilty of 1st degree robbery. By admitting that W indeed participated in the robbery but that there was no proof that the handguns were loaded, D had a chance of making the jury decide that his client was guilty of robbery not in the 1st degree but in the 2nd degree.
The Court of Appeals however, also notes that the question here is not if what D did was effective, but if he had the authority to admit in court that his client was guilty of any criminal charges.
D claimed that he told W of the strategy that he would use. He showed him what he was going to say in court and that although W was not happy with it, he did not stop him from using it.
The Court said though that this does not mean that W allowed him to admit he was guilty. Our New York Lawyer says that there are certain things that a lawyer is allowed to decide for the client but there are also certain things that he cannot do without the permission of the client. Admitting guilt is one of these.
The Court of Appeals explained in its decision that W was always very consistent in saying that he was innocent. Even when faced with a heavier sentence, he still maintained that he was not guilty. The Court decided that what D did was unfair to W and biased. It accepted W’s appeal and decided on a retrial with a new lawyer.
Stephen Bilkis & Associates, together with its New York Robbery Lawyers, is sure to help you in situations like this. They can provide proper guidance and support you and your loved ones. Remember that the right lawyer can save you valuable time and money. You can easily find them in their office in Corona New York, or in the many offices they have conveniently located around the state.