Those individuals on the outside of the justice system might believe that poorly behaved criminal lawyers are few and far between.
We see them on our television and movie screens for our own entertainment without actually stopping to consider what unprofessional conduct looks like in real life.
These practitioners can cross the line where clients have every right to source other legal counsel, and in extreme cases, they can be disbarred or embroiled in their own crime themselves.
Here we will look to identify some red flags that should be raised for victims or suspects who need to hire a professionally run service.
Failure to Respond to Correspondence
When a client is left in the dark as phone calls, emails and text messages are left without a response; criminal lawyers should face severe scrutiny. Solicitors are not in a position to reply to this correspondence 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Even if their firm is blessed with immense resources, they have their own schedule to adhere to. Yet a victim or suspect has the right to be updated on the case and be made aware of key progress. Anyone is entitled to question their capacity to handle the task if they go dark regularly.
Turning Up Late to Appointments
Being punctual to court appointments is fundamental for criminal lawyers to respect the judicial process, the judge, jury, paralegals, witnesses, plaintiff, law enforcement officers and any other parties that are present for the process. Official warnings are handed down to solicitors who fail the punctuality test, and there can be penalties that ensure they are not assigned to further cases. Yet there are scheduled consultations that take place between attorney and client that have no judge present, and this is where the real test can be found to see if they respect them as much as they fear potential penalties from the judicial system.
Unable to Source Key Evidence
For criminal solicitors like Papa Hughes to emerge victorious over their counterparts on the opposing counsel, they need to leverage direct forms of evidence to influence their argument. This can be found with police reports, documentation, DNA testing and eyewitness testimony. If the opposition has the ability to find these details first, they have the opportunity to set the agenda in the courtroom. That places the team on the back foot where they are forced to react rather than instigate a proactive plan.
Showing No Empathy or Support
Criminal lawyers do not have to sympathize with a client or wallow in their pity. What they have to do is help manage their mental and emotional state because an unstable client, in a purely practical sense, can lead to all sorts of setbacks in a criminal case. What they have to do is alleviate stress and anxiety by offering a plan towards a satisfactory outcome and put them in touch with professionals who can handle their psychological wellbeing. This is an empathetic approach where they illustrate that they are invested in this matter and are indeed working in their best interests.
Conflicts of Interest
If a client believes the criminal lawyers that they have hired have their eye off the ball or are not operating in good faith, that is a slippery slope where confidence is eroded, and an unsatisfactory outcome is likely. A conflict of interest can arrive in many forms, from the profile of the opposing counsel, the identity of the victim or suspect, the amount of other cases occurring simultaneously or a personal vendetta or agenda held by the practitioner where winning or losing becomes burdensome. These examples should raise an immediate red flag.