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Debunked: 5 Myths About Criminal Defense Attorneys

Craig Kadish

By: Craig Kadish

January 21, 2022

A criminal defense attorney is often the first person people call when finding themselves on the wrong side of the law.  Yet, not many people truly understand what a criminal defense attorney does.  People watch popular television shows like Law and Order and famous movies like A Few Good Men and believe that’s exactly how a defense attorney operates in the real world.  As exciting as those television shows and movies can be to watch, they are simply not accurate. Unfortunately, this has resulted in widespread myths and misconceptions about criminal defense attorneys and their vital role in the criminal justice system.

Read below as we debunk five common misconceptions most people have about criminal defense attorneys.

Myth Number 1: Public Defenders are Just as Good as Criminal Defense Attorneys

Under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, anyone charged with a crime has a legal right to be represented by an attorney.

Public defenders provide free legal representation to underserved and disadvantaged populations.  Although some public defenders are knowledgeable and skilled attorneys, they are often underpaid and overburdened with enormous caseloads.  Therefore, a public defender will most likely not be able to dedicate the time and effort needed for your case.  As a result, many public defenders will not become personally invested in your case or have a personal stake in the outcome.

On the other hand, a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney has the ability to dedicate the time, effort, and resources needed to obtain the best possible outcome for you or your loved one.

Before making a decision, remember that your freedom is at stake, and then ask yourself: “Who do I want representing me?” 

Myth Number 2: You’ll Only See Your Criminal Defense Attorney in the Courtroom

Television shows and movies, such as Law and Order, perpetuate the myth that most of a criminal defense attorney’s job occurs in the courtroom.  This is ironic because in the real world it is the opposite.  A qualified criminal defense attorney will spend an enormous amount of time preparing for a case outside of the courtroom and only a small amount of time actually in the courtroom.

Under no circumstances would an adept criminal defense attorney only see their client in the courtroom.  Your criminal defense attorney should consistently meet with you to discuss your case, answer any questions, or concerns you may have, work to find applicable evidence and witnesses, research the relevant law, develop a strong defense, and prepare you for what to expect in the courtroom.

Myth Number 3: You Do Not Need a Criminal Defense Attorney if You Intend to Plead Guilty 

This is arguably the most harmful myth regarding criminal defense.  Many people believe that if they are entering a guilty plea, they do not need to obtain the services of a criminal defense attorney.  However, this belief is utterly false.

Whether you intend to plead guilty or not, you should ALWAYS seek the proper advice of a qualified criminal defense attorney.  Even if you are adamant in your decision to plead guilty, your case DOES NOT end there.  Afterward, there will be another hearing where the Judge determines the sentence to be imposed.  A criminal defense attorney can provide you with important information on sentencing and work to develop a strong legal argument for a lesser sentence.

It is ultimately reckless to enter a courtroom without having at least met with a criminal defense attorney to discuss your options.

Myth Number 4: Criminal Defense Attorneys are “Sleazy” and “Shady”

Criminal defense attorneys often carry a bad reputation among the general public – largely due to the way they are represented in the media.  In television shows and movies, criminal defense attorneys are often portrayed as greedy, untrustworthy, and morally corrupt.  However, this is not the case at all.

Although there are bad actors in every walk of life, most criminal defense attorneys understand the importance of balancing their ethical obligations to the criminal justice system with their duty to represent their clients to the best of their ability.  Qualified criminal defense attorneys will do whatever they can to assist their clients, but they are not going to risk losing their license to practice law by engaging in unethical practices to win a case.

Myth Number 5: All Criminal Defense Attorneys Offer Free Consultations to Prospective Clients

When hiring a criminal defense attorney, most people believe they can “shop around” before making a final decision.  However, not all criminal defense attorneys offer potential clients a complimentary consultation and the costs can add up quickly.  Before scheduling an appointment with a criminal defense attorney, make sure you ask about the firm’s consultation rate.

If you or a loved one is in need of a criminal defense attorney, contact Craig M. Kadish to schedule an appointment for a free consultation.

Craig Kadish

Craig Kadish

With 30 years of experience and a lengthy track record of success, Craig Kadish has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s most highly sought after criminal defense attorneys. Mr. Kadish has practiced criminal law for three decades, winning an array of high-profile cases. He has had the honor of being recognized both locally and nationally for his dedication, diligence, and prowess in representing clients in exacting and innovate ways. He’s known as a leader in his field. His tenure as a criminal defense attorney and law professor has given him invaluable expertise that few other attorneys possess.

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