I finished a federal criminal case in Atlanta recently. My clients were very happy with the outcome. Helping people is one of the reasons I still get excited about my work, even in my 36th year of handling such matters. I mention this recent case because it has features we often see in such matters, and teaches lessons for both prospective clients and federal criminal defense attorneys, whether in Georgia or the rest of the country.
The clients are a husband and wife who have a small child together. They are immigrants to the US, but are now citizens. English is not their native language, as shown in the very nice statement the husband was willing to publish about their experience with me: “I am grateful that we were able to retain Mr. Kish to represent my wife through an online research. We were panic before we met Mr. Kish. As a professional, intelligent lawyer, Mr. Paul Kish also provides outstanding customer service. Mr. Kish treats his client with respect and care. A HUGE Thank You here, Mr. Kish saved our family and got our life back on the right track.”
The wife was arrested in a blaze of publicity. Turns out that the government made several incorrect assumptions when arresting this relatively guileless woman. Over time, we were able to convince them they were wrong on several major matters. We got all felony charges dropped, and agreed to a plea to a misdemeanor crime that does not require proof that the wife acted with criminal intent. Oh yes, we also agreed she would have to pay a whopping $632 fine. What started out as a big deal for the prosecution ended with a whimper when the Judge imposed a total of 1-year probation for the misdemeanor violation.
So, here are some features of this recent case that repeat in other federal criminal cases. Massive publicity at the time of the arrest, and no reporters trying to get the defense side of the story (we fixed that when I issued a statement that outlined the prosecution’s mistaken assumptions that led the the relatively innocuous crime to which she pled guilty). Clients who are totally scared and inexperienced in the criminal justice system, and who need someone to not only advocate on their behalf, but who will take time to make sure they understand what happens each step of the way (we made a point of paying for top-notch interpreters who were on each and every attorney-client conference so she could ask questions and have my explanations translated into her native language). And finally, an agreement with reasonable prosecutors who are willing to admit their incorrect assumption when it is explained to them, resulting in what is probably a fair end result. No two federal criminal cases are the same, but many have similar features.