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Justice For All
Justice For All, Attorney at Law, JD
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Over 8 years of legal experience /family law, general practice, and criminal defense.
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What are the obligations of a criminal defense attorney ...

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What are the obligations of a criminal defense attorney when the defendant wishes to testify and the defense attorney believes them to be guilty of the offense? I have to present a powerpoint presentation for my Ethics in Criminal Justice class and need help finding the answer to the question above. Also, if there is a site that goes into more details that I can look up that would be great.

Hi cruzan007,

A criminal defense attorney must advice their client about possible outcomes as well as advice the on whether they believe it would be in the client's best interest to testify or not; however, the decision to take the stand is ultimately up to the defendant. An attorney cannot forbid him from testifying or prevent it if the client truly wishes to do so. The attorney must explain to that client the consequences of testifying as well as prepare him or her if that is what they truly wish to do. It is unethical for the attorney to prevent the client from taking the stand no matter how detrimental the action might be.

One thing to remember is that it is not for the criminal defense attorney to decide whether the client is guilty or innocent. The attorney's only job is to make sure that prosecution does there job ethically and appropriately, to make sure that the prosecution proves their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and to make sure police actions were done by the book.

The following links might help you if you have other ethical questions about an attorneys obligations in Florida: -- has many ethics opinions that you can read through.

I hope these help you. If I have helped you in any way, please accept so that I may go on to help others as well. Good luck!




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