A criminal defense attorney can be analogized to a ship captain as follows: A ship captain knows his or her ship. A criminal defense attorney knows the strengths and weaknesses of his or her case. A ship captain can only control his or her ship. A ship captain cannot control the seas, the weather, etc. A criminal defense attorney controls the strategy of his or her case. He or she cannot control the police, the prosecutor(s), the court clerks or the judges. A ship captain needs a good navigator to avoid rough seas and weather. A criminal defense attorney must be a good navigator. He or she must know the ins and outs of the county where the case is prosecuted, as well as the habits and likes and dislikes of the prosecutor(s) and judge involved in the case. If not, his or her client is left exposed, like a ship facing rough seas and weather. A criminal defense attorney may continue a case for the simple purpose of getting a better result for his or her client on the next court date. Criminal defense attorneys must be good navigators.
The science behind being a good criminal defense attorney is sometimes more common sense than an absolute mastery of the law. We have seen some of the smartest attorneys make some of the dumbest mistakes. If an attorney sees that a judge is agitated or rushing, there would be no reason to put on a hearing or trial at that particular time. A delay might result in a happier judge on the next court date, or a different judge who is more receptive to conducting a hearing or trial. As they say â€œtiming is everything, and this especially holds true in the criminal justice system. A prosecutor’s case is the strongest at the time a criminal defendant is charged with a crime. The case generally will get weaker over time, not stronger. Therefore, sometimes the best strategy is to slow the pace of the case down, as long as it is not needless or dilatory. For example, a misdemeanor battery case where the defendant and complainant know each other. On the very first court date, the complainant may be present and telling the prosecutor that he or she would like the criminal defendant to go to jail. If the case gets continued for discovery and other proper purposes, by the second, third or fourth court date months later, the complainant may have cooled off or made up with the defendant, in which case, he or she may want to drop the case or be willing to go along with a less drastic result.
Being a criminal defense attorney, like the captain of a ship, must be a good navigator and have a keen sense of timing.