Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

Do I Need A Complete Criminal Defense Legal Team For A Misdemeanor?


Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

Whether or not someone needs a complete criminal defense legal team for a misdemeanor is a question that reminds me of a common companion question, which is whether or not someone really needs a lawyer at all. The answer to the second question is simply this: if someone runs the risk of going to jail by attempting to handle their case on their own, then they should immediately hire a criminal defense attorney. There is no such thing as second place in a jury trial, and unrepresented people who go to court on their own are the most likely to suffer courthouse surprise or an unexpected jail or prison sentence. This happens most frequently with misdemeanor cases. Judges will not accept pleas of no contest or guilty at arraignment court in felony cases, but they will in misdemeanor cases, which is why people often unexpectedly receive jail sentences on misdemeanor convictions.

The power of a team as opposed to an individual lawyer does not change with regard to whether a case is a felony or a misdemeanor; the principles that make a legal team superior to a solo attorney still apply. At the current time, Florida follows Rule 3.112 in capital death penalty cases, which specifically states that the lawyer should have a certain amount of experience. The level of experience, quite frankly, is very difficult to obtain. Additionally, there must be two lawyers as opposed to one.

When I first started trying misdemeanor and felony criminal cases, there was no such thing as Rule 3.112, and as a result, I was trying death penalty cases by myself. Fortunately, no one was ever sentenced to death, but the bar recognized that it was a very bad idea and that there were many claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. In fact, a large numbers of murder cases have been reversed due to ineffective assistance of counsel simply because the solo lawyer defending the case was overwhelmed.

Now, I totally understand from experience that murder cases are different. However, misdemeanor cases are the most likely to slip through the cracks within a solo practice lawyer’s law firm. Criminal cases—both felony and misdemeanor—are simply too important to use a method that is likely to be problematic. Using a solo practitioner for a misdemeanor criminal case is a textbook example of that problem. We see it all the time, and so we decided to establish the Florida Criminal Defense Legal Group, PLLC. We wanted to make sure that our clients get the best results, regardless of what firm the lawyer comes from. This enables us to put together the most effective legal teams possible, and in my opinion, they are much better than the ones at the state attorney’s office.

To use an analogy, imagine that there is a problem with a car’s engine. The owner of the car wouldn’t take their car to a body shop if something was wrong with the engine, and they wouldn’t take their car to their mechanic if the car was involved in a minor fender bender. In about 80 percent of all vehicular accident cases, a mechanical shop and a body shop may be necessary. When it comes to misdemeanor criminal defense, having exactly the right lawyers for that particular type of case is absolutely essential. When I am designing a legal team, I ensure that the lawyer is assigned to a case based on their experience with a specific type of technical defense. In other words, they will be placed according to the nature of their expertise. Ultimately, each legal team is customized for a particular case and a particular client’s needs. I’ve even handled cases in which the representation had been undertaken and a strategic decision had been made to change out certain members of the legal team once it became apparent that it was necessary to produce the best result.

In conclusion, the most important aspect of misdemeanor defense is obtaining the best results. We are not going to win every single case; that’s just how it is. However, there are still other matters relating to whether or not someone is sentenced to jail time, and whether or not there are technical defenses that can produce a substitution or reduction of charge. For these reasons, using a highly competent criminal defense team as opposed to a solo practitioner always produces better results.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

For more information on Need For A Criminal Defense Legal Team, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 466-1522 today.

Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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