Most people’s image of the classic criminal defense attorney is that of Johnnie Cochran defending O.J. Simpson, Clarence Darrow’s famous closing argument in the case of Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, or Shawn Holley Chapman’s ongoing attempt to help Lindsey Lohan stay out of jail. The day-to-day reality of what a defense lawyer does, though, is much less likely to make the headlines of Entertainment Tonight or the Baltimore Sun. Most often, the criminal defense attorney’s hardest work comes behind the scenes, where frequently the most benefit for the client can be had. This is especially true when a criminal defendant is facing charges that have highly inflamed the public and are drawing a lot of attention from the media.
In order to obtain the best representation possible – for cases in the media or just of concern to the defendant and his or her family – individuals facing criminal charges should seek representation by experienced Maryland criminal defense attorneys. At Brassel, Alexander & Rice, our criminal defense attorneys are highly experienced, and always seek to obtain the best possible results for our clients, whether that result can be found in the courtroom or through negotiation with the prosecutor.
When the media spotlight focuses on a case, the defendant in the case is at an extreme disadvantage. When public attention stays on the facts of a case, not only does the potential jury pool become tainted with significant amounts of inadmissible statements and evidence, but the State’s Attorney begins to feel a lot of political pressure as well. State’s Attorneys are elected officials in Maryland, and it is inevitable that they will listen to what their constituencies have to say on a matter that has a high public profile.
A case in point was the recent plea deal for Teonna Brown, the young woman charged with the beating of Chrissy Polis, a transgendered woman, at a local McDonald’s. The episode caught significant regional media attention, was viewed on video millions of times around the world, and was also used by advocates for transgendered people to strengthen calls for legal protection for the transgendered.
Under such public scrutiny, obtaining a fair trial for Ms. Brown in the case would have been very difficult, and the importance for the criminal defense attorney to press the case behind the scenes became paramount. Charged with first degree assault and other crimes, Ms. Brown faced a minimum of 25 years in prison, with the possibility of having an additional ten years of prison time tacked on because of hate crime charges. Ms. Brown’s defense attorney, however, was able to work out a plea deal in which Ms. Brown would only face a ten-year sentence, with five of those years suspended. Thus, while the defense attorney’s work was done behind the scenes in this case, it was in all likelihood much more effective than anything that he could have accomplished in front of a jury in a courtroom.
It is vital for criminal defendants to hire experienced Maryland criminal defense attorneys immediately when faced with criminal charges. When the public is focused on a particular crime and calling for a heavy punishment, experienced legal representation can be the difference between a very difficult trial and a positive result in plea negotiations.