Guidelines in Hiring a Richmond Criminal Defense Lawyer

Criminal defense lawyers are the very people you will call in times of unfortunate incidents such as being arrested or being charged with a crime. Legal advices and representations are what you require during these trying instances.

Getting a criminal defense lawyer at once is also essential because you got to know your rights. And there is a proper way of responding to the police and to the court officials. You should know those as well. Criminal defense lawyers would be able to help with these.

The criminal defense lawyers from Richmond are always ready to discuss your case with you. They are more than willing to protect you, your family, your properties, your freedom, as well as your reputation. The lawyers of Richmond would be there to help.

But there are countless of Richmond criminal defense lawyers that you can go to, all with good honors and numerous laurels to boost. To give you an idea who to contact in times of trouble, here are the things that can serve as a guideline.

Are these defense lawyers expert in the field of criminal law?

Criminal cases are very much different from civil cases. And the expertise of a lawyer is usually either of the two. Seldom would you see a lawyer who specializes in both fields at the same time. The laws governing a criminal case is more strict than that of a civil case. So make sure that the lawyer you are getting are real-deal criminal defense lawyers.

Do these lawyers have a good winning percentage?

It really doesn’t matter if you go to a big law firm or a small one. What matters is the main person who will handle your case. Has he won a lot of cases lately? Do you have faith that he can take your case towards acquittal or settlement? A good criminal defense lawyer is a winning lawyer. He should be able to effortlessly win the case.

Does the criminal defense lawyer new to his job?

Experience counts. If the lawyer you are going to get has just handled a case or two, you are gambling on his abilities to represent you. Anyway, good lawyers, no matter how short time they had spent, has the power to win any case. But you’ve got to request for a mentor for that lawyer should you feel uncomfortable with him handling your case single-handedly.

Has the criminal defense lawyer handled a similar case before and has won?

A case always is different from another, even though the may seem to be very similar. But the lawyer’s attack on the defense is usually the same. They just change tactics slightly, depending on the merits of the case. A lawyer that has handled a case similar to yours before is a good option because he, more or less, knows how the entire proceeding will head to.

Is the criminal defense lawyer knowledgeable with the case and the law?

This is very important. The criminal defense lawyer that is going to represent you in court should be well-schooled as well as well-informed of the case. He should know by mind and by heart, the articles of the constitution that are applied against you. While it is true that he cannot memorize the whole constitutional provisions, he should at least research on similar cases and matters before hand.

These are what you should ask yourself if you are in the stages of hiring a criminal defense lawyer. Better answer these questions right now, than do it when necessary, as you might not have time to prepare.

Article Source:

The Role of a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Today’s Time

Criminal defense lawyers sometime get a not-so-flattering portrayal because people assume that they defend guilty people. However, if you are a defendant in a criminal proceeding, you need the assistance of a qualified criminal defense lawyer, regardless of your guilt or innocence. As the protectors and advocates of the accused, defense lawyers play a pivotal role in the United States justice system to see that everyone charged with a criminal act has an opportunity to defend themselves.

Defense Lawyers Protect the Rights of the Accused

First and foremost, a criminal defense lawyer’s role is to protect the rights of the accused. Upholding your rights under the Bill of Rights as set forth in the United States Constitution, criminal defense lawyers are bound by law to assist their clients by making sure you are treated fairly by the United States criminal justice system. Specifically, your criminal defense lawyer’s job is to see that you are allowed:

·The right to a trial by a jury of your peers;

·The right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt”;

· The right to a speedy and public trial;

· The right to remain silent;

·The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures; and

·The right to legal counsel.

All these rights are guaranteed by the United States Constitution and are applicable to all states through the Fourteenth Amendment as well as United States Supreme Court case opinions. As such, a criminal defense lawyer is obligated to provide clients with protection against the overreach of the government in meting out punishment to any individual accused of a criminal offense. An experienced, qualified lawyer accomplishes this by challenging any government or law enforcement conduct that violates the rights of any United States citizen accused of a crime. Should a criminal defense lawyer fail to make reasonable efforts to protect your rights or provide effective assistance, he/she risks losing his/her license to practice law or other penalties (some of which could include jail time).

Criminal Lawyers Defend the Innocent

The second most important role of a criminal defense attorney is to defend the innocent. We see daily about overturned criminal cases where new evidence verifies the incarceration of an innocent person who has served time as a result of an incorrect guilty verdict. And, while for the most part, most clients of criminal defense attorneys are somewhat criminally culpable in the crime they have been charged with, on rare occasions, some of a lawyer’s clients are truly innocent. Though a rare occurrence, innocent people are accused and convicted of criminal offenses.

To combat the prosecution of the wrongly accused, criminal defense lawyers must be diligent in holding prosecutors and police accountable for every stage of their investigation in every case they handle. Thus, defense lawyers must take seriously their role as advocates for the innocent and the not-so-innocent to assure that the guilty don’t escape while the innocent are punished.

Therefore, to accomplish the task of upholding a client’s constitution rights and acting as a watchdog to oversee the conduct of police and prosecutors, a criminal defense lawyer must zealously pursue independent investigations into the crime for which a client has been accused to assure that at trial, that client is either completely exonerated or that there is enough evidence to prove that reasonable doubt exists to warrant his/her client’s release from custody.

And, while for the majority of instances, a person who has reached the point of a jury trial is guilty, defense attorneys are mandated to provide every client an opportunity to a fair trial. Guilty or not, everyone has the constitutional right to have a fair trial. With a strong belief in the adversarial nature of the criminal justice system, reputable criminal defense attorneys recognize the right of every citizen to have representation and sometimes must put aside their emotions to represent those who have committed very serious crimes.

Criminal Defense Lawyers Defend the Guilty

In general guilty clients that criminal defense attorney’ represent fall into two categories:

·Those who deny criminal culpability; and

·Those who take responsibility for their criminal behavior

Most lawyers agree that the most difficult criminal client to represent is one that takes some responsibility for the crime as it is much easier to establish innocence or reasonable doubt when you don’t think your client is guilty. Facing ethical and moral dilemmas daily, a criminal defense lawyer must deal with situations where they have knowingly facilitated the release of a guilty person, risking their reputation and a clear conscience. On the other hand, defense lawyers get a great deal of satisfaction when their representation of an accused individual has a positive impact on society. For instance, when a criminal defense lawyer helps a client avoid more serious legal consequences by intervening in lives to affect positive change (i.e., plea bargains of rehabilitation instead of jail time, community service and probation instead of jail time etc.). As a trusted advocate, criminal defense lawyers have a great deal of influence on their clients’ lives as opposed to a judge, prosecutor or probation officer.

Lawyers are a Necessary Part of the United States Judicial System

Sometimes portrayed as villains who help criminals run free, criminal defense lawyers are necessary for the United States legal system to run smoothly. Without the availability of qualified legal representation for those accused of crimes, the potential for overreach by government would be great. A balanced system where all parties are represented and where one side isn’t given free rein to rule over the other is what our judicial system is all about. And, while every system has its flaws, the United States judicial system is still the best available in the world.

Article Source:

Health MEC breaks her silence on psychiatric patients

In June 2015, Gauteng health MEC, Qedani Mahlangu, announced that the department would terminate its contract with private hospital group, Life Healthcare.
The private healthcare provider had housed almost 2,000 long-term, state-funded psychiatric patients at its Life Esidimeni facilities in Johannesburg.

Patients would either be sent home or transferred into the care of community–based nongovernmental organisations, said Mahlangu. At least 36 patients have died following the move.

Source: M&G/Felix Dlangamandla
Source: M&G/Felix Dlangamandla

Last week, dozens of activists from organisations such as the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and public-interest law organisation Section27 joined affected families in a protest outside the Gauteng health department and handed over a list of demands.

This week, Mahlangu discussed the department’s response to the deaths and why the matter may prompt court cases on both sides.

Can you explain the rationale behind the move?

We’ve been through that. I should start by saying we have met with a lot of people and the majority of them were at the march.

When people take things to the street as if there is no engagement with the department, it worries me as to what exactly is the intention of this.

A number of patients … because their psych conditions could not be managed at NGOs (nongovernmental organisations), those [patients] were sent to Sterkfontein [psychiatric hospital], to Weskoppies [psychiatric hospital] and some to the Cullinan [care and rehabilitation] Centre.

We’ve employed additional nurses … and we are also reviewing the amount of money we spend on patient care.

How were NGOs identified and vetted?

From September, I started visiting the NGOs. Before that … I would not have visited NGOs and I don’t think it would be my responsibility as an MEC.

The mental health team would have decided [on] these NGOs. The report we received would say something like: “This NGO qualifies.”

How will the department improve the monitoring of mental health facilities?

These scheduled weekly visits by our team are important but [we will be doing] more unannounced visits. I have said to some of the NGOs like the TAC that I am going to invite you to the NGOs when I go there. We’ve also said to our hospitals that where they have a [nearby NGO operating], medical doctors, not only psychologists, must … visit those places to medically assess patients.

A memo delivered to the department asked for a list of the NGOs housing former Life Esidimeni patients and the number of patients who have died. Will you be responding to the demands?

We will respond to the issues that are practical to respond to. One thing that is impossible to do is to share details of family members without their consent — that we can’t do. Section27 has asked us for the list [of NGOs and patients].

Section27 wants to sue the department, so they want the list for that purpose. They’ve said it in our formal meeting with them. They came with their lawyers; we came with ours.

How many NGOs still house former Life Esidimeni patients?

Sho, I wouldn’t know off the top of my head … Probably more than 10.

You’ve mentioned possibly taking legal action yourself. Why?

Where my name has been used inappropriately in certain things, I will definitely be able to do so. I am working with lots of people who work exceptionally hard and sometimes they will make mistakes. Things go wrong sometimes, [but] the question is how do you learn from the mistake?

Prasa maladministration ‘a very serious matter’

The maladministration that occurred at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) is a “very serious matter”, according to its chairperson.
Prasa maladministration ‘a very serious matter’Popo Molefe told parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Wednesday that the board was “rigorously going through the issues raised by Public Protector” Thuli Madonsela, after her investigation into Prasa three months ago revealed large-scale maladministration and targeted former CEO Lucky Montana.

“It is complex,” he said. “We can’t give timeframes. It is unfortunate that we cannot disclose details of what is emerging, because it needs follow-up investigations.

“We have National Treasury working with us and a team of forensic and IT experts as well as criminal lawyers and police working with us.”

“It is a multi-disciplinary committee led by very senior police officer,” he said.

Molefe said he would make announcements regarding the investigation as soon as the board has all the facts. “I accept we are the successor and, therefore, assume assets and liabilities of our processors,” he said. “We don’t want to be absolved. We have to deal with this problem.”

Many of the issues raised by the parliamentarians were subject to the investigation and so Molefe could not answer them. This resulted in the meeting being cut short. Ending the meeting short, Scopa chairperson Themba Godi instructed Prasa officials to compile a list of the various investigations that are underway, and to include how long each probe is likely to take, EWN reported.

Pistorius trial tells us a lot about our society

We have seen one style of cross-examination at the Oscar Pistorius trial: the pit-bull approach. It is tough and brutal…
The target is trapped in the witness box – not unlike a dog thrown into a fighting pit – and the lawyer for the other side sets out to tear apart every aspect of their life and their history, slowly and relentlessly.

It is as if we cross-examine in the same way we play rugby: we are bigger, tougher and more brutal than anyone else and we can wear you down over time through relentless pressure. Who needs brains when we have enough brawn?

Certainly, this approach often works, and prosecution bulldog-in-chief Gerrie Nel has shown that with Pistorius.

Then there’s the other approach

But what happened to what I call the Sydney Kentridge approach: using wit and gentle but sharp skill to nudge the witness into a corner and get them to admit things they do not even realising they are admitting?

One recalls Kentridge outsmarting the Steve Biko killers in that most famous inquest so that – even as he knew he could not win the case under an apartheid-era magistrate – he showed the police to be cruel, dishonest and foolish.

His agile tongue and timely use of irony and sarcasm became the subject of plays and films and are still held up to show how you can score points by being cleverer than your opponents, even when they have all the muscle. This is the work of a terrier rather than a boerboel.

I am not saying that the pit-bull approach is inappropriate, only that one expects some light and shade, some variation in the approach.

Setting the trap

When we want to show that an expert is not up to scratch or sow some doubt on an eyewitness version of events, why do we need always to leave them in a heap on the floor, bruised and beaten?

There are some members of the Bar who still work in the Kentridge tradition.

I once made the mistake of agreeing to be an expert witness in a dispute that went to court and was caught off-guard when the advocate for the other side spent the first few minutes of his cross-examination telling me how smart, expert and skilled I was.

He laid out my experience and achievements better than I could have done it myself. He flattered and cajoled me.

And then he caught me.

He did not need to humiliate me, he just needed me to concede one point, and he led me slowly into that trap. And when he did, it counted that much more because I was all puffed up.

Then there’s this trial

Of course, it is different in a criminal trial like the Pistorius case.

Criminal lawyers are tough players in a rough game, and Nel’s technique was forged in the daily battles of criminal prosecution rather than the more lofty debates of civil dispute.

But I raise the point because I think it tells us a lot about our society and our culture.

In all the coverage of the trial, I am struck that we seem to be avoiding some of the hard issues it has thrown up.

What does the trial tell us about our gun culture? It is not just that a large part of our society has an undue affection for these weapons of individual destruction, but that they are careless and showy about it.

Pistorius did not have a gun; he had an arsenal. Nothing was more telling than the description of his indignation at a policeman who once touched his gun, as if he was fondling parts more private.

What has it told us about the fear that lurks behind our gated communities and how people seek refuge in cars and weaponry?

What does it tell us about the seemingly unchanged lifestyle of many of those in these communities, who seem to be as separate from the rest of society as they were under apartheid?

It is a story of masculinity and muscularity and it is a truly South African story, pause for thought during an election campaign that sometimes seems to be more about brawn than brain.