Interviewer: Where would you say most of your cases are won? Are they won in trial or is it during the middle of the case or is it at the very beginning?
Paul Geller: Every case is different. The sooner that the defense attorney, or myself in particular, can be involved, you are increasing your chances of a victory. Now, a victory may mean a dismissal. A victory may mean a reduction of charges. A victory may mean less punishment. So that term has varying degrees of definition.
It really is important, though, for the defense attorney to be involved early. I would say that the majority of cases are successfully handled closer to trial because prosecutors may find that the courts are too crowded and they can’t find a trial court and so they have to start plea bargaining cases of less importance or of less strength. That’s really where the defense attorney can be a good trial lawyer and practice to take cases to trial where that kind of strength can come into play versus someone who simply appears to be a plea bargainer who’s moving on to the next cases, but most of the time, those people have done so earlier in the process anyway.
I generally make numerous appearances on all of my cases. Even on a simple misdemeanor, I probably average about eight to ten appearances on a case before anything is negotiated. That’s simply because there’s so much more that goes into the examination of a case than simply receiving the initial police report and analyzing it. It’s never what it is in the initial police report. I don’t care what type of case it is.
I would definitely say the cases are better handled and more appropriately disposed of, whether it means going to trial or plea bargaining, much closer to trial. Oftentimes, once we are looking at the facts of the case and perhaps our backs are against the wall factually and we would legally deal with that, this is where the importance of an experienced defense attorney comes in.
Sometimes we look at: How’s the system working right now? What courtrooms are available? Which judges are available? Which prosecutor is handling the case? You kind of have to know how to play the system just as well as you have to play the facts of the case.
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