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3 ways lawyers tell a defendant's story in court

During criminal court proceedings, the prosecution will try to prove that the defendant is guilty of specific criminal acts by submitting facts, evidence and their version of what happened to the court. The prosecution's version of the story will usually be crafted in a way that makes the defendant look uncaring and inhumane.

In response, the defendant will need to tell his or her version of the story in a way that garners the sympathy of the judge and jury. In this respect, there are generally three ways of telling a criminal defendant's story: 1) a complete denial, 3) an admit and explain, or 3) a confession story.

A complete denial story

A complete denial story involves the defendant saying that the criminal accusations are not true and that he or she did not commit the crime. One of the best ways to approach a complete denial story is through the use of an alibi. The defendant might say, "I could not have broken into that family's home and I did not commit the crime because I was in school at the time. In fact, you can corroborate my story with my teacher and fellow students. I'm clearly innocent."

In cases where the evidence against the accused is not particularly strong, the use of a complete denial story can be effective in casting doubt on the prosecution's version of the facts. If the defendant can also support his or her denial story with irrefutable facts and evidence, then a verdict of not guilty will likely be achieved.

An admit and explain story

In an admit and explain story, the defendant confesses to committing the act but explains why he or she did not have a choice in the matter and therefore should not be held accountable. For example, a DUI driver might explain, "Yes, I was driving my car while intoxicated, but my friend suffered a serious accident and there was no time to wait for an ambulance. I needed to drive him to the hospital right away or he was going to die."

When the defendant has strong evidence to support his or her admit and explain story, it can be an effective method of defense against a crime. Even in cases where conviction is likely, the defendant might be able to use this strategy to gain the sympathy and confidence of the court, and thereby achieve a less severe punishment.

A confession story

A confession story involves the defendant's outright admission to committing the crime. The defendant might say, for example, "Yes, the accusations are correct. I did break the window of that home. I illegally entered the residence; I stole the jewelry and $800 of cash from the master bedroom." The defendant might also say why he or she needed the money, or why this led to committing the crime, which could help gain the sympathy of the court.

When using a confession story, the defendant might also try to negotiate a deal with the prosecution before entering a guilty plea. Successfully navigated plea bargain arrangements likely can garner the defendant a less severe punishment.

Ultimately, every criminal case is different and requires a unique criminal defense strategy that reflects its factual scenario. In order achieve this, a lawyer will need to investigate the evidence being presented, interview potential witnesses, research the crimes and potential punishments, and investigate how similar cases were treated by California courts in the past. As a part of this process, the way the defendant tells his or her story is an extremely important consideration.

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Fisher Law Office

1322 Morro Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-4028

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