How Far Should You Push A Criminal Defense?

Posted on: 15 November 2021

When people think about defending themselves against criminal charges, they often want to push their defenses as far and hard as possible. A criminal attorney, though, may want to approach things differently. It's important to think about how far you ought to push it before you present a defense. Consider these four details before deciding how to proceed.

The Nature of Your Defense

Some defenses are very active, but others assume the prosecution can't prove its case. Likewise, some defenses are anchored in one or two critical facts or interpretations of the law while others are complex and require explanation.

A criminal defense attorney has to present each type of defense appropriately. If someone's defense is they weren't present at the time of an alleged crime, for example, a lawyer may want to put pressure on the prosecutor to prove the defendant was. Rather than pounding away at every issue in the case, an attorney might prefer to only jump in when the prosecution shows video and photos or ask a witness to identify the defendant.

Conversely, a defense grounded in legal language may require more involvement. An attorney might have to tell a judge or jury why they should read the law a particular way, such as during a fraud trial.


Not all cases are equally heavy with evidence. You'll get an idea of how much evidence the prosecution has in arraignment, and you'll get the full picture by the time discovery is over. Once more, a criminal attorney will usually want to put pressure on the state to prove its case. Remember, you're under no obligation to even present a defense. The state, on the other hand, has to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt its argument is right.

Likelihood of Conviction

Even the best attorney has a limited amount of ability to turn back a strong prosecution. It's not necessarily the best idea to mount an aggressive defense if the odds of a conviction seem high. An attorney will chip away at the edges of the case, instead. For example, they'll motion for the judge to dismiss the case if there seem to be problems with evidence, testimony, or the nature of the charges.


Only some cases are worth fighting tooth and nail. If a client can move on by paying a fine and serving no jail time, for example, it might be better to make a deal and get on with their life.

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