Sentencing: It all Comes Down to This
In the Drunk Driving section of this site, I explored “The Importance of the Voice of the Lawyer.” While there is no need to repeat what is posted there, that same concept of the Lawyer as a persuader of opinion applies every bit as much to Criminal cases as it does to DUI cases. After all, DUI cases are just a kind of Criminal case, anyway.
Throughout my various blog articles, I examine every aspect of a Criminal case, from the moment of first Police contact, to what happens from the first Court date right up through the final outcome. And good or bad, that final outcome of any case is the result. Thus, if a person goes to Court on a Suspended License charge and gets locked up for 10 days, then that’s a bad result. On the other hand, if someone goes to Court on a Possession of Marijuana charge, and they whole thing is kept off their Record and all they have to do is pay a fine, that’s a good result.
And the results in any Criminal case aren’t random, nor do they just “appear.” There are various strategies employed to produce the best results possible. Principal amongst them is preparing for the Pre-Sentence Investigation, or PSI. But the end result of all of that is a written Recommendation that the Judge will use in determining a person’s Sentence. That Recommendation is important; it essentially becomes the blueprint for what will about to happen to a person at Sentencing.
The ONLY thing that stands between the Judge, the Recommendation in his or her hand, and the person about to be Sentenced is their Lawyer. After all the Legal wrangling and negotiating, it falls to the skill of the Lawyer in addressing and persuading the Court. It all comes down to how well (or not) the Lawyer can make a speech. In a very real way, it all comes down to this…
If you think about it, this really focuses on the essence of what a Lawyer is, or at least is supposed to be. Unfortunately, the image of the Lawyer as a super charismatic, persuasive and silver-tongued changer of opinions has taken a beating over the last few decades, and too many of today’s real-life Lawyers do little to change that. Nowadays, Lawyers are portrayed in movies and in TV shows as marginally intelligent smart alecks, whose best talent is the well-placed, witty quip. In terms of being persuasive, the only thing these characters do is reinforce the idea that Lawyers are, to be polite about it, rather “unlikeable.”
It should not be this way. When someone hires a Lawyer for a Criminal case, they should hire someone who could talk the spots off of a leopard. If not, then they hired the wrong Lawyer.
At the Sentencing, the Lawyer has a very brief window to get the Judge’s attention. After that, the Judge’s attention is either held, or lost. And that’s the point of this section, and the real “point” in a Criminal case; it all comes down to this. Once the Lawyer takes the podium at Sentencing, it’s time to make that Judge look up and captivate him or her. In the world of persuasive speaking, you must first capture the listener’s attention. Then, you must begin persuading the listener to see things your way. A persuasive speaker will captivate the listener, and will influence his or her opinion. Hopefully, that influence will, in a Criminal case, extend to softening up the eventual outcome at the Sentencing.
This is my playground. This kind of persuasive speaking defines me, both a person and as a Lawyer. To me, having these skills in top form is required if you’re going to take people’s money and try and make things better for them in a Criminal case. Beyond just having the skill set, any professional, in any endeavor, needs to continually practice and refine them. I do. And if the reader is wondering how I speak, you can get a pretty good idea by thinking about what you’ve been reading.
It is, I admit, a bit unconventional for this kind of information to show up on a Lawyer’s website. Yet in the search for a Lawyer, things like the Lawyer’s voice, and temperament, and how they present information and explain things are precisely those attributes that distinguish one from the next. Do you really think that some “special” Lawyer is hiding behind a boring website? If you want an idea of how a particular Lawyer talks, read what he or she has written. Their “voice” should be every bit as discernible from their writings as it would be if you were sitting across the desk from them. I know mine is.
In the final analysis, a person either hires a Lawyer who is charismatic, effervescent, memorable and persuasive, or not.
And who wants to walk into Court and be Represented by “or not”?