Does a lawyer have to defend people they think are guilty?

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username4169146
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#1
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#1
how does it work ? and why would you "have to" - can't you turn down the client? and would you be expected to defame the reputation of someone you think is an innocent victim. would a prosecution lawyer be expected to prosecute someone they think is innocent? how do they sleep at night if they do any of this?
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Notoriety
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https://www.theguardian.com/money/20...reers.careers4
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bones-mccoy
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A lawyer can choose not to take on a client if they don't want to. Lots of lawyers defend people who they personally believe are guilty but their own opinions don't change the fact that they're making a case to the jury that shows otherwise. A defendant isn't guilty until the prosecution offers enough evidence that the jury finds they committed the offence beyond reasonable doubt. The defence lawyer can't lie about what they know their client has done but they can offer alternate explanations and also attack the prosecution's expert evidence.
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chazwomaq
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(Original post by snugglebear)
how does it work ? and why would you "have to" - can't you turn down the client? and would you be expected to defame the reputation of someone you think is an innocent victim. would a prosecution lawyer be expected to prosecute someone they think is innocent? how do they sleep at night if they do any of this?
Good question but Notoriety's article provides good answers.

I think ultimately the lawyers' job is not to decide whether someone is innocent or guilty - that is the job of the court. Their job is to make the strongest case for each side, and then (hopefully) the truth will out.

Think of it this way: if someone is found guilty even after a thorough and robust defence, you can be pretty sure of the verdict. Whereas if someone is found guilty because the lawyer doesn't really want to defend them and does a poor job, you still have a nagging doubt about the verdict.
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Notoriety
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(Original post by bones-mccoy)
A lawyer can choose not to take on a client if they don't want to. Lots of lawyers defend people who they personally believe are guilty but their own opinions don't change the fact that they're making a case to the jury that shows otherwise. A defendant isn't guilty until the prosecution offers enough evidence that the jury finds they committed the offence beyond reasonable doubt. The defence lawyer can't lie about what they know their client has done but they can offer alternate explanations and also attack the prosecution's expert evidence.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cab-rank_rule

Different rules for solicitors, although I am not quite sure what they are. I know about one criminal barrister who was told by the defendant, to the effect, "yeah, too right I did it, so how you gonna get me off?" She got rid of the client somehow.
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bones-mccoy
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(Original post by Notoriety)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cab-rank_rule

Different rules for solicitors, although I am not quite sure what they are. I know about one criminal barrister who was told by the defendant, to the effect, "yeah, too right I did it, so how you gonna get me off?" She got rid of the client somehow.
Ah yeah, I was talking about barristers
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username4169146
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#7
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very intertesting article thank you. he sounds very clinical and detached from it, like it's just a mental exercise and he doesn't want to be swayed either way emotionally, which I guess makes sense but is a little chilling to hear. Lawyers seem to love saying is everyone has a right to a "fair trial" - but we all know if there is a say a supposed rape victim, the defence of the accused will denigrate and sling through the mud every last bit of the the victim's character and life, from any tiny lies she/he has ever told, to getting a bit drunk at parties, to apparent attention seeking, everything will be used against them to make the case on the grounds that this accuser/victim is unreliable. they win cases like that, just to create doubt is all they have to do. I am not sure it can be called "fair," it's more the nature of the beast and I can see why people really have something against lawyers.

(Original post by bones-mccoy)
but they can offer alternate explanations and also attack the prosecution's expert evidence.
it's not about the apparent vicitms, it's just about who can out-smart who. it's the way it goes with every case, but it seems like cat and mouse between the lawyers out-smarting eachother and using rheortical word play.

(Original post by chazwomaq)
Think of it this way: if someone is found guilty even after a thorough and robust defence, you can be pretty sure of the verdict.
I suppose so, although many cases have been over-turned on appeals. but the guilty verdict sounds more convincing than the innocent/not guilty one I suppose.
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malccantrill
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#8
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I think it becomes a game between solicitors. Which client can afford the best.Far too many criminals are let off when known to be guilty.
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