Perry Mason seldom had to sit through a strategy session to try to figure out how to defend a client but, in real life, many attorneys develop and implement an intentional procedure after a series of steps. These include:
1. Establishing the seriousness of a crime, and the risk of attendant potential penalties. Attorneys first must face the fact that there are severe consequences at stake for their client. They will realize that it’s imperative that they come up with a viable strategy on their client’s behalf. This will take time and planning. If they succeed, the sentence may be lessened and may take the form of community service –which will enable the defendant to attempt to, in the eyes of the public, begin to make amends.
2. A trial attorney will carefully review the documents, such as the evidence which the prosecution has collected.
3. Of course, a meeting with the defendant will take place. This is a very important session, and will enable the attorney to learn the defendant’s “take” on the alleged facts. Is there a confession? Is there a guilty-with-an-explanation scenario? Or does the defendant maintain that he or she is not in the wrong for what they are being charged with? The strategy will, in large part, start to take form based on the defendant’s answers.
4. The attorney might suggest to his or her client that the entire episode of the alleged crime be written down. This gives the attorney-defense “team” a chance to identify and fill in missing gaps of information of the time frame, etc.
5. The attorney will, either while examining opposing attorney’s data or afterward, start to collect his or her own information on the case. He or she will be able to compare their own findings against that which has thus far been compiled by the other side, and against what the defendant has explained in the client-attorney session.
6. Quite often, prior cases or precedents which have been established, and which might have an impact upon the attorney’s planning, are also invaluable, and the attorney takes time to review such cases and outcomes.
7. Witness information will be taken down, and the “believability” or credibility of both the defense witnesses and the prosecution’s witnesses will be studied.
8. The attorney will take other factors into consideration, such as law enforcement’s responsibility and the public (or society’s) attitude about the crime in question.
9. The moral dilemma will be called into question as the attorney continues to build a defense. For instance, what was the moral stance of the defendant? And what about that of other participatory parties?
10. At this point, the defense attorney may decide to ask the defendant to help him or her to make the defense strategy as airtight as possible. This may involve a form of coaching on the attorney’s part, so that the defendant is able to better grasp, interpret and put forth the defense message. One way in which to accomplish this might include a mock question and answer session.
11. The attorney might share with the defendant a few of the important factors which he or she will be aiming at, in the construction of the defense strategy. These include:
- Laying out or detailing the important events in the defendant’s story. For instance, if a defendant insists that he or she was shopping at the time that the crime allegedly took place, there will have to be evidence which will adequately support his or her claims. This is the information which may need to come to light when the case is being tried.
- A meshing of the facts with the truth, as per the defense message. For example, the defendant, who insists that there was a reason that he or she was at the bus stop at the time that said incident occurred, will have to explain what they mean. If the defendant was in the habit of standing at the bus corner, waiting for the school bus which carried his or her children home at three on-the-dot every weekday, they will have to say so.
- Finally, the attorney will find it necessary to connect with and gain the understanding of either the Judge, who will be presiding over the courtroom trial, or the jury which will be selected to serve (or both). It is never a bad idea for a defendant who knows, in their heart of hearts, that they never had the intention of so managing things that a crime was committed, to reveal this to those deciding his or her fate.
Each attorney’s plan of action is different. Once the attorney-client meeting has taken place and pertinent information has been sifted through, the attorney and the defendant are able to work in tandem to develop a course of action which, in the best of all worlds, will secure the most desired possible outcome.