Following Expert Advice in Criminal Defense Matters

By October 6, 2010Criminal Defense

By Mark C. Cohrs
Chief Investigator
The Gasper Law Group

As an employee of a reputable law firm, I often get to witness the interesting dynamic of certain clients who refuse to follow the professional advice for which they pay. Some clients tend to only consider advice that is immediately favorable to them, regardless of the potential impact to their case. It sometimes seems as though they adopt the doubting nature of a child who is told to not touch the hot stove top. In the case of the doubting child, the detrimental result is instantly realized, which is not always the case in the criminal justice system. The stinging effect in legal situations may not surface for an extended period of time, but they need to hang on when it does.

Clients faced with domestic no contact orders often reconcile with the protected person, with total reliance on the belief that nobody will ever know. Those couples often manage to experience relationship bliss until, you guessed it, a disagreement ensues. From there it only takes a phone call to the authorities to enact that long arm of the law
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I often wonder if the decision to ignore the advice is made out of an arrogant belief that they know more than the lawyer. In comparison, I was recently involved with the process of guiding a group of horseback riders over a fairly treacherous creek crossing. The most experienced of us collectively selected a spot that had previously proven to be the safest of locations to cross.

However, several of the impatient riders failed to remain as riders when they were rapidly ejected as they chose to attempt to cross at a different location. I found this to be similar to the process of assisting clients with the decision to enter into a plea agreement instead of risking a trial in front of twelve strangers. In most cases when the evidence suggests a strong likelihood of conviction, our advice will generally lean towards achieving the best guaranteed result for the client.


Unfortunately, a few clients will invariably insist on trying to prove their innocence, often for the sole reason of trying to secure some sort of vindication. However, what seems to be a perfectly logical justification from the perspective of the accused person, isn’t generally perceived the same way by an objective judge or jury. The concept that cooler heads prevail should be considered as a good rule of thumb in most cases. Where the clients are quite often driven by emotions, the experienced attorneys readily recognize the potential perils associated with rolling the dice at a trial.

The purpose of this article is not to discourage an accused person from pursuing his or her right to a trial, but is intended to encourage clients to strongly consider the recommendations of their lawyers before they make the decision to enter through the court room doors.