You’ve been falsely accused. The charges that have been levied against you are 100% untrue, and you know you’re innocent. Perhaps you have other people who corroborate your story, who agree that you are innocent. Perhaps you have witnesses to your innocence! Clearly the charges were a misunderstanding—if that’s the case, you don’t need a criminal defense attorney, right?
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Defendants who are convinced of their own total innocence may believe that they do not need a skilled defense attorney, or one at all. That belief reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of how the California criminal courts work. Ideally, the truth is revealed in the courtroom…but not by any one person.
The Prosecutor's Role
Prosecutors have a single job: secure a conviction and put you behind bars. That is their entire function. While all good lawyers are interested in the truth, the prosecutor is not your advocate or an objective investigator. Their job is to utilize the evidence to convince the court that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Without a defense, the prosecution will assuredly accomplish this, regardless of your story. Defense attorneys know how to navigate deep pools of evidence and testimonies to highlight the evidence that strengthens your case. With the prosecutors, they help maintain the integrity of the criminal justice system. Going to trial without a defense attorney would be akin to boxing with your arms tied behind your back.
The Defense Attorney's Role
The defense’s job, whether they are a public defender or private defense attorney, is to ensure that the court believes you are innocent. They will utilize the same evidence as the prosecution to present a case that will exonerate you in the eyes of jurors and the law. Again, while defense attorneys are invested in the truth, they are not objective—they are the advocate of their client, regardless of their personal feelings.
The philosophy of trial-by-jury is that between the opposing sides, between the effective, skillful, and honest presentation of the evidence, the truth will be determined. It is only when the two sides are competent and highly-trained that the system works. All things being equal, two ethical lawyers who are equally matched will always arrive at the truth.
For this reason, you will always need a skilled Oakland criminal defense attorney when facing charges. Understanding the law and how to present a case are crucial to proving your innocence. Ideally, in the criminal justice system you are innocent until proven guilty—but your innocence must be protected by a competent Oakland criminal defense attorney.