What can I do if my son was falsely accused of theft by taking, he allegedly took another student's cell phone, but the public offender is still trying to make him settle out of court & make him pay for the phone anyway?
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): Georgia
We have told the truth but the public offender continually stresses what the "witness" states, even though the "victim" contridicts what the witness is saying. I can't afford a real lawyer.
Hello Jacustomer,It is a lawyer's professional obligation to point out the strengths and weaknesses of his client's case and also to convey all available options to resolve the case. What happens from there is the client's decision and not the lawyer's. No matter what the lawyer personally feels about how a case should be disposed of, what his client says about that goes. Once the decision is made he is obligated to give his client the best defense he possibly can.Public defenders handle close to 90% of this country's criminal caseload. So generally they are highly experienced and know the worth and weight of a case. If the lawyer is dwelling on what a witness is saying rather than on what the complainant is saying there's a reason for it. II cannot guess at what that is, but the very least he is suggesting that it may pose a problem if your son takes the case to trial. Public defense lawyers, just like private lawyers, come in all kinds. Some are great lawyers. Some are terrible. And most are at least average. Because of what a lawyer's obligation is, I can't tell whether your son has got a good, bad, or indifferent lawyer. I can say, however, that if he wants to take this case all the way and doesn't think that he will get the support he needs from his lawyer, then this one is the wrong lawyer for him.Unless the case is literally on the edge of trial, a defendant can ask for a new public attorney. He can speak to his lawyer, tell him that he does not feel confident that he is going to help him win his case and that it seems that he's working against him instead of for him. He'd like him to get off of the case so that the judge can appoint another lawyer. The lawyer will not take it personally. It's part of the job. He will make the record to the judge on the court date. Usually, judges will agree to make one change of assigned counsel.FranL41098.9026633102
The witness states that he saw my son put the phone in his pocket. However, the victim states that the witness helped him look for the phone around the classroom. Then the witness states that either my son or another person may have it. This is the statement of the victim. But when the witness is questioned, he sticks with the fact that my son is guilty. He tells the victim 1 thing & the public offender another. What can I do about that?
Hi Malinda,You can't do anything more with that but to tell the public defender what's being said, unless you also know of people that the state's witness told about the incident who could help the lawyer demonstrate that the state's witness changes his/her story like the wind, whenever it suits him to tell it a different way. This is the sort of thing that a lawyer would deal with on trial in cross examination to make it clear that the witness has told several different versions of the incident and is not reliable. If the witness then holds to his story, your son's lawyer could call one of the names you provide him with as a rebuttal witness. This is not the only way to impeach a witness's credibility, but it's a dramatic one.FranL41098.9197771991
Am I allowed to make a list of important questions to give to the public offender to ask the witness or cross examine the witness with?
Hi Malinda,The actual trial strategy is the lawyers and not the client's (and certainly not the client's relative). And cross-examination is a much trickier process than you may think. But you can absolutely give your son's public defender a list of witnesses, and a list of questions that he might want to ask them (if not at trial, then when he interviews them to see how they are likely to hold up on the stand).While I know you're rightfully concerned that your son get a fair shake, I'd caution you to let the lawyer do the talking to the witnesses rather than you talking to them yourself for him. You would never want it to come out on the stand that the defendant's family was putting pressure on witnesses to have them testify to a particular set of facts. One of the standard questions that a prosecutor will ask is who the witness talked about the case with. The lawyer, of course, is entitled to interview them and prepare them for trial, but you want to avoid looking like you took any steps to influence any testimony.FranL41098.9512776273
18 yrs of NYC public defense. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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