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Do I tell my attorney if I’m guilty?

October 28, 2011

2. Law, 6. Trial

Do I tell my attorney if I’m guilty?

Only if you want to complicate things.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  Read on …

Here’s the drill – never lie to your attorney and never lie under oath.  It also helps if you never lie – period.

It may seem odd, but I don’t care if you’re guilty.  If you want a trial, I want to make sure that you get a fair one – and that means that the prosecution has to establish your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  If the cops get the gun with your fingerprints all over it but get it outside Constitutional requirements, then the gun isn’t admitted into evidence.  If that means you walk free, then you walk.  Not my problem.

My client is you.  There’s nothing that changes that.  But I also view my client as the US Constitution.  I didn’t write the thing – I just help in my corner of the world to ensure that it’s honored.  The Constitution requires a Search Warrant to penetrate the Search & Seizure Clause.  Beyond the handful of exceptions, if a cop searches without a Warrant and finds evidence, I am going to do my best to get that evidence excluded.  It’s the right thing to do.  In this sense, I am looking out for all people – not just you.  A cop cannot kick a door down and take what he likes merely because he’s oh-so-sure it’s there.  The law has provided plenty of exceptions to gather evidence without a Warrant.  The exceptions cover all the reasonable situations – imminent destruction of evidence, for example.  It’s not my fault the clown played Rambo.  I know my job – he needs to learn his.

What if you tell me you’re guilty, then you insist on testifying and you say you’re not guilty?  I’ll burn you.  Count on it.  The rules of being a lawyer require me to tell the judge that I know you just committed another crime – perjury.  I love you like a brother, but your attempt to beat a few years in prison does not equate to trashing my career.  I’ll ask to talk with the judge outside the jury’s ability to hear.  They have white-sound switches they flip on.  I’ll say, “Your Honor, this dude just lied.  He testified on a matter material to this case in a way contradictory to what I believe to be his knowledge.  I want off this case.”  I’m required to do that.  The judge will let me off.  He’ll call a recess, the jury will go into their room, and I’ll gather my stuff and leave.  He’ll call the jury back and explain that I’m gone … and there you’ll sit.  Alone.  Best of luck to you.  Let me know how it works out.

If you want to plead guilty, spill your guts.  Tell me everything.  I’ll work with the facts as best I can to get you a negotiated plea.

If you want a trial and you want to testify, be careful what you tell me.

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About Clyde

Clyde is the lead attorney in the firm. Licensed to practice in 1993, he's also taught Constitutional and Criminal Law for several years at a private university, primarily at the Master's level.

View all posts by Clyde


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