How can you represent bad people? A friend of mine at my church came up and asked me that exact question. I answered him, “I don’t represent bad people. I represent people in bad situations.” All of us at one point in our lives need somebody who will stand up and help out. All of us sometimes need someone to fight for us. That is what I do.
Just because someone accuses you of a crime, that does not make you a bad person, and it certainly does not make you guilty of that crime. Anyone of us could be placed in a situation where a police officer is questioning or even accusing us ofcommitting a crime. In my sixteen years of practicing criminal defense, I have seen officers questioning clients at their homes, their jobs, or even on the side of the road after a traffic stop.
In the State of Florida, it takes very little for a police officer to arrest you. All they need is probable cause. Probable cause is the standard by which a police officer may make an arrest, obtain a warrant, or conduct a search of you or your property. This is almost the lowest standard in the criminal system, and it is very easy for a police officer to obtain.
The United States Supreme Court, in 1968, stated in Terry v. Ohio, that seizures may be made in cases where the officer has reasonable cause to believe a crime has been committed or soon will be committed. In 1983 the Court lowered the threshold in Illinois v. Gates, by ruling that a “substantial chance” or “fair probability” of criminal activity could establish probable cause. That means that a better than fifty percent chance is not required. So if just one officer, just one, reasonably believes a crime has been committed and believes you did it, you can be searched and arrested.
What my friend at church seemed to forget is that good people can make mistakes, and good people can be accused of something they didn’t do. I have represented many people who did nothing wrong, or who did something that they didn’t know was illegal. I have also represented many people whose actions did not result in the way they intended. Many of them are good people. Good people that made a bad decision or found themselves in a bad situation.
Our forefathers understood what they were doing when they created this country. They understood that freedom is necessary for democracy. They understood the way that other governments had repressed the people they were meant to protect. The Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of Florida are well thought out rights, rules and principles. They are not a bunch of technicalities. They are not documents created for the purpose of letting criminals walk all over our streets. These are important laws created to make sure that each one of us is allowed to live our own life free of government intrusion. These are important laws that enable us to be a great free society. These are important right written for you.
Keep in mind that some people who are accused of a crime are truly not guilty. So, don’t let somebody tell you, if you are not guilty that you do not need an attorney. That statement is not true. I’ve seen more clients hurt themselves because they trusted people who were not looking out for their best interest. The police officer, or friend, they trusted were not attorneys. It’s the police officer’s job is to investigate and build a case in a criminal prosecution. It is your attorney’s job is to protect you.
All of us, whether we are right or wrong, want a lawyer that is going to fight as hard as possible for us. If you didn’t do anything wrong and are being questioned, then you need an attorney to protect you. If you think you may have done something wrong, then you need a criminal defense attorney to make sure your constitutional rights are protected.
The people I represent are not all bad people. I have the honor and privilege of assisting people in their time of need. I am able to help them, as an advocate, a counselor and a guide through our criminal justice system. Hopefully, I am able to help them out of their bad situations.