A Duty to Defend?

Had a potential client in my office this afternoon to discuss his pending criminal fraud charges. He is currently being represented by the public defenders office. He was concerned about the fact that the PD office would not file a motion to suppress that he felt very strongly about.

An attorney has a duty to represent his client in the best interest in the settlement of his case. This includes plea negotiations, pre-trial motions practice, and at trial if necessary or requested by the client.

Attorneys represent client. It must be remembered that the case belongs to the client not the attorney. That raises a question of how far does the attorney have to go during his representation of the client. Does an attorney have a duty to file a suppression motion if the client feels strongly about?

I believe that an attorney must evaluate the facts and circumstances surrounding the evidence subject to the suppression motion. This evaluation must be conducted by the attorney independently of the client’s wishes and desires. If there is any legitimate basis to prepare, file, and argue a motion to suppress, then I believe the attorney has an obligation to comply with the client’s request.

On the other hand, if there is no legitimate bases to prepare, file and argue a motion to suppress, then I believe the attorney has no obligation to comply with the client’s requests. Based on the attorney’s training and experience, sometimes hard decisions need to be made. It is up to the attorney to explain to the client the reasons for not filing the motion and to support those reasons with facts (or lack thereof) and the current state of the law.

Does your attorney have a duty to defend his client at any costs? NO. The lawyer is in the best position to make strategic decisions based on his/her training and experience. That is the reason that it is always best to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.

If you have questions, contact the Law Office of Michael P. Hanle. I have over 20 years of experience handling criminal defense cases in the federal, state and municipal courts in the Birmingham, Alabama area and surrounding counties.