Criminal Defense Lawyer vs Trial Lawyer – Why it Matters

Aug 28, 2023 | Criminal Defense

If you are wondering about the difference between a criminal defense lawyer vs trial lawyer, there are two things you need to know. Firstly, the two terms are not interchangeable – not all defense attorneys are trial attorneys. Secondly, the difference in experience between the two can significantly impact your freedom.

If you are facing Colorado Springs prosecutors who want a judge or jury to find you guilty of a crime – and punish you accordingly – you need someone on your side who doesn’t just hold themselves out as a criminal defense lawyer.

A trial lawyer – one who has repeatedly gone toe-to-toe with and consistently beaten aggressive prosecutors – is what you need to give yourself the best chance of a positive outcome, including acquittal or dismissal of the charges.

A trial lawyer knows what it takes to get the best result for those accused of crimes. This requires more than understanding criminal statutes and the ability to cut a deal with Southern Colorado prosecutors. If you hire a defense lawyer who is not a trial lawyer, you put yourself at a disadvantage at trial and make it far less likely that you could obtain a favorable plea bargain.

What You’ll Learn in this Post:

  • When looking for a criminal defense attorney, look for one with extensive experience trying – not just settling – cases like yours.
  • There is no substitute for trial experience. The nuances and realities of the criminal justice process are not always in books or statutes.
  • Prosecutors will only offer bad deals to attorneys who will take any deal because they are afraid of or unable to go to trial.
  • Criminal defense attorneys who used to be prosecutors have unique insights and experience that make them more effective at trial and during negotiations.

There Is No Substitute For Trial Experience

Simply put, there is no substitute for actual trial experience when it comes to criminal defense.

Think of it this way. You could read all of the books there are about football. You may understand every kind of play, know every type of offense or defense, and familiarize yourself with every rule. That doesn’t mean you know how to play football in real-time. That knowledge alone won’t keep you from getting tackled into oblivion once you’re on the field.

James- defense lawyer vs trial lawyer why it mattersSimilarly, there are nuances and realities of the criminal justice process that you cannot gain by studying Colorado state statutes. Every Colorado jurisdictional district has its own rules and procedures, with prosecutors who have their own way of pursuing convictions, and judges who bring their own preferences and perspectives to the cases before them. Understanding these unwritten rules can be as crucial as knowing the written ones; the ability to turn those nuances into an advantage in the courtroom only comes from experience. The trial lawyer always wins when weighing a criminal defense lawyer vs trial lawyer.

If Your Lawyer Has a Reputation For Taking Any Plea Deal, Prosecutors Will Offer You a Bad One

Resolution for most criminal cases comes through plea agreements in which a defendant agrees to a guilty plea in exchange for a lesser offense or punishment. Not every case, however, warrants a plea deal. If you have strong defenses, were wrongly accused, or the police and prosecutors have made serious errors, you need an attorney who is ready, willing, and able to take your case through trial.

Unfortunately, many inexperienced criminal defense attorneys will attempt to get their clients to take plea bargains regardless of the likelihood of a successful trial.

On the other hand, an experienced trial attorney is not afraid of trial and will fiercely fight for each client and preserve and utilize their constitutional right to a jury trial.

From the perspective of prosecutors, there are substantial differences between a criminal defense lawyer vs trial lawyer. The District Attorney’s Office simply does not have the resources or time to take every criminal case to trial. As a result, the District Attorneys usually offer some sort of bargain or incentive to get a defendant to plead guilty. The problem for many people in the criminal justice system is that they either do not have an attorney at all or their attorney is inexperienced and not willing to go to trial. If a prosecutor knows that the defendant’s attorney is afraid or reluctant to go to trial, they know the attorney will likely take any deal they offer. And that means they will offer a weak and unfavorable agreement.

Conversely, a Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney with a reputation for going to (and winning) trials will do more for their clients because the District Attorney in Colorado Springs knows their weak offers will not be tolerated. The difference between a defense lawyer vs trial lawyer is that a trial attorney prepares from day one for trial – talking to witnesses and analyzing the evidence for potential defenses.

The more prepared an attorney is on a case, the more serious the D.A. will take that lawyer.

When Looking For a Defense Lawyer, a Trial Lawyer Who Used To Be a Prosecutor Is Your Best Bet

Another significant difference between a criminal defense lawyer vs trial lawyer is how they gain their experience.

The best criminal defense attorneys have first-hand knowledge of how to protect their clients’ rights against overzealous police and prosecutors, finding and exploiting the weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case against their client. They know how local prosecutors think and what circumstances and evidence will influence them to agree to a favorable plea deal or possibly dropping charges entirely. They know all of the unwritten rules and personal inclinations of the judges presiding over criminal cases in El Paso and Teller Counties. And the best criminal defense attorneys know all of these things for one reason:

They were once prosecutors themselves.

James- defense lawyer vs trial lawyer why it mattersMany of the most successful defense lawyers formerly worked as prosecutors. When prosecutors change their career path to defending the very people they tried to convict, they bring all of the insights and knowledge they gained while working for the state.

For a criminal defense attorney to understand how prosecutors win – and lose cases – they must consider things from the prosecutor’s point of view. That is something that can only happen by standing in their shoes.

Related: What You Need to Know About Court-Appointed Public Defenders

You Shouldn’t Have to Choose Between a Criminal Defense Lawyer vs Trial Lawyer

The good news is that you don’t have to choose between a criminal defense lawyer vs trial lawyer. Before hiring an attorney who will hold your freedom in their hands, find out why they chose criminal defense, how they gained their experience, and if they are willing to fight for your freedom in the courtroom, not just at the negotiating table.

The tenacious criminal defense attorneys at James Newby Law use the insight and experience gained as former prosecutors and trial lawyers to protect the rights of anyone facing criminal charges in and around Colorado Springs.

With so much at stake, you need an aggressive and committed Colorado Springs criminal defense and trial lawyer to stand by you and stand up for you every step of the way. You need James Newby Law.

Schedule your free, confidential consultation today.