Anyone who loves crime dramas and legal thrillers has watched scenes where a defendant tries to tell their attorney about what they really did, and their lawyer says, “I don’t want to know!” This may seem strange to people. After all, why wouldn’t your defense attorney want to know the truth? How can they properly defend you if they don’t have all of the facts? Well, this is a complex subject, but the truth is, there are many laws and professional ethical mandates which govern the conduct of defense attorneys in Michigan.
In an article by Evan A. Jenness and published by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, he opens by pointing out the dichotomy that defense attorneys face in their practice every day. “Criminal defense lawyers help clients and safeguard their secrets. They also must follow the law. These obligations collide when a lawyer acquires tangible evidence of a client’s crime, leaving counsel to walk a fine line between protecting a client and avoiding wrongdoing.”
In child abuse and neglect cases, the evidence is often on or in the body of a child, which is not evidence that an attorney can conceal. However, there are instances where a child was harmed using a specific object or item, which could later be concealed or disposed of. So when it comes to evidence beyond a child’s physical condition, what does a criminal defense lawyer do? Where do they draw the line between doing their job and breaking the law?
The issue of legal violation hinges on evidence of a crime, and whether or not an attorney has possession of that evidence.
Jenness breaks this issue down into two categories. The first category refers to the actual items a defendant used in the commision of a crime, which are called ‘contraband’ or ‘instrumentalities’. This could include a gun used in a murder, a leather belt or wooden spoon used in an assault on a child, or even an average household object employed in the sexual abuse of a child.
This is where an attorney’s ethical duty becomes an issue. In Michigan, an attorney who possesses contraband used in a crime would have to get rid of it. However, they could not, under any circumstances, destroy it or hide it from the police! This is a tricky situation, and one that most defense attorneys work very hard to avoid. After all, the penalties for breaking the law, if you are a practicing attorney, could include losing your law license and even facing criminal charges!
Join us next time as we continue this discussion about the difficulties faced by criminal defense attorneys, and the legal ethics that govern their conduct. Until then, if you or a loved one have been accused of abusing or neglecting a child, contact The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. Our experienced defense attorneys have spent decades defending the parents of Michigan and protecting their rights. We are here to help you! And remember a good defense attorney, the kind you want on your side, NEVER violates the law or compromises themselves in order to achieve a certain outcome. Hard work, integrity, and creativity are ALWAYS the best ways to achieve success!