What kind of attorney do you need?
A real fighter who’ll kick some DA A–?
An attorney who knows all the judges and prosecutors and meets with them socially?
Can I state the obvious?
You need a smart attorney.
What is a smart attorney?
Let me explain.
A criminal case starts out very badly because the police write a report that makes you look bad. The reason that the police want to make you look bad is because they want the DA to file a case against you. Otherwise, they can’t justify their time.
Then the DA gets the case and looks at the report and comes up with every crime they can think of that might fit your scenario. In some cases – quite a few really – you get charged with more crimes than you actually committed. This is called over charging and it happens very often.
A smart attorney is a strategic thinker. A smart attorney makes his first assessment by asking himself what the trial outcome might be. Because, and this is Very Important The U. S. Supreme Court says “there is no constitutional right to plea bargain; the prosecutor need not do so if he prefers to go to trial”, Weatherford v. Bursey 429 U.S. 545, 561 (1977). Then, a good attorney asks himself what might be a best case scenario.
The next part is what separates regular lawyers from great lawyers. The attorney has to push the case towards the result he wants. This is an art. This is a talent. A great attorney has to be keen to spot opportunities that might arise at any given time. Then, he has to make the crucial decision whether to accept “his” best case scenario or risk trial and the chance of a much worse outcome.
In Orange County, according to the District Attorney’s web site, some 75,000 felonies are reviewed every year, 60,000 felony cases are charged and 90% of the cases end in conviction. In state court, 94% of the cases are plea bargained. At trial, there is over a 90% chance of being found guilty. So, about 1% of criminal defendants got to trial and are found not guilty.
Let me share a personal story of how this can play out:
I was the Attorney on a very high profile case. My client was a Dr. and he was charged with 88 counts of unlawfully prescribing controlled substances. Twenty one of his patients died. However the government could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was responsible for the deaths. So, he was only charged with prescribing. I got him a deal where he pled to 11 counts and the prosecutor was recommending 13 years in prison. I was endeavoring to persuade the judge to give him less than that.
Through a combination of circumstances, the good doctor fired me. His new attorney, appointed and paid by the court, told Associated Press that I was absolutely incompetent. I failed basic lawyering 101. She was gonna make sure that the Dr. was fully informed and knew his options. Under her stewardship, the Dr. elected the option of going to trial. He was found guilty of 79 counts which were sentenced concurrently. He is now in Federal prison serving 27 years and he is in his late sixties. He will be close to 90 before he gets out of prison. That extra 14 years will put a nail in any chance he had to enjoy freedom again.
I knew from the beginning that no jury was going be sympathetic to his story. I had been honest with him about that, and I gave him my assurance that I would do everything I could to get him the lowest possible sentence. Because, if he went to trial he was going to lose.
Once I saw that trial was not a good idea, I took my time. Over 2 years. When I was sure that I had the best offer, I took it.
The Dr.’s trial Attorney and I are both named as one of the top trial attorneys in Southern Ca. The trial attorney also founded the local Criminal Defense Bar association. So, why did things go so wrong? I think it’s a mix of things. Sometimes a client is so bent on complete exoneration that a plea bargain is not what they want to hear. Sometimes, the attorney has a perhaps unreasonable expectation or just simply is a “true believer” in trials. A couple of years ago, I was in a three defendant case with same attorney, she was also appointed to replace the previous attorney(s). Same Thing. She went to trial and lost. The client got a worse sentence than the prosecuted had recommended if the client pled guilty.
Honestly, the Dr’s trial Attorney was up against a wall, taking my deal, would make everything that was said about me uncalled for. You can’t say that Guisti did an incompetent job and have the client take the incompetent offer. As a court appointed lawyer paid by the hour, she wasn’t going to get a lot of hours if all she did was try to tune up a deal that I had already gotten him. Of course, if she won at trial she would be a hero but there was a very small chance of that. Actually, no chance of that.
When the Associated Press called me, I told them that if Dr. Vicodin was going to take the case to trial, my prayers were with him. Sadly, even prayer doesn’t work if your attorney is bound for glory and drives you in your Mazda Miata straight at an oncoming bus. An awful sight to see.
When you hire me you are hiring a lawyer who is well recognized in his craft. I have 17 years experience. The biggest reason to hire me, is I’m smart. I make your situation my personal problem. I make the resolution of your case and the consequences that you get from your case my personal problem. Honestly, my gift is knowing what to shoot for and waiting until the opportunity presents itself.
Not many lawyers will be as honest about our craft as I am. That should tell you something about me.
Contact the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti today at (888) 478-8999.