10 Principles of Defending People (#8 Be Optimistic & #7 Inoculation)

June 1, 2018

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

Today I’ve got two principles to share and they can be summed up the cliche, “Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.”

I’m summing up what I feel are the 10 most important principles a criminal defense lawyer should follow in their practice in this series.  You can read about my previous posts so far on the topic here:

#8 Be Optimistic

You won’t find much doom and gloom on my blog.  I’m sure there’s plenty of anger, grand-standing and self-ritcheosness… but hopefully not much fear-mongering.

People often shake as they’re walking into my office.  A big part of it is because they’ve been on the internet or gotten legal advice from their best friend growing up.  They think I’m going to confirm their fears about having body and appendages severed by the prosecution.

I have yet to come across a case in the zillions I’ve evaluated where there isn’t some hope, some ray of sunshine, or something to be optimistic about.  Granted, these things are relative and  if there weren’t legitimate reasons for concern — no one would come and see me at all.

But people crave optimism from professionals they deal with.  There is nothing wrong with being optimistic and letting folks know where the sunlight is.

#7  Inoculate People For Bad News

Again, today’s topic is a ying and yang concept.  While there is nothing wrong with being optimistic — people also don’t come to a lawyer to be lied to.

Bad news is unfortunately part of the job.  It’s important to discuss unpleasant possibilities for many reasons.  What is also important is putting them into context and letting someone know how realistic certain outcomes may or may-not be.

I find it is important to discuss possible bad news before it happens.  This way the lawyer and client can come up with a plan for avoiding the possible bad result and time to come up with another plan should the bad result come to fruition.  This gives the client and/or their family a sense of some control and allows time for them to wrap their mind around things.

I call the concept inoculation.  It is like eating vegetables.  It’s no fun to eat veggies at the table but it’s very healthy in the long run.  Discussing possible bad outcomes in a constructive way yields long term dividends.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas.


Top 5 Most Common Police Attitudes – #1

May 15, 2018

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

This week I’m counting down some of the top police attitudes I see as a criminal defense lawyer in cases I handle.  Again, these are in no particular order of frequency or importance.

One theme I’ve discussed several times in this series of blogs is how the pressures of law enforcement can pull, push, stretch and bend officers in every different direction.  Police see the ugly underbelly of humanity and it shapes how they view the world.

Today’s attitude is no different.

#1 — Scumbag Mode

Police are at their most disappointing when they are in what I call “scumbag mode.”  It is self explanatory.  They think they’re dealing with a scumbag and they treat the person as such.

What I don’t always see with an officer in scumbag mode is an officer who is downright aggressive.  Instead, many are passive aggressive allowing the suspect to think they are in control.  What the suspect doesn’t know is they are already trapped in a spider’s web.

But we can tell they are in scumbag mode because of how they act or what they say.  Evidence of innocence gets crumpled up and pitched right into the trash can.  They call tow trucks once they go back to their squad cars.  They game plan with other officers about the arrest… then they go right back out to the defendant and pretend he or she can talk their way out of trouble.

Not happening.

The hardest things to get juries to understand about when an officer goes into this mode are three things — first is the degree of often passive-aggressive manipulation; second is their bias causes them to distort evidence against the accused; and finally — jurors don’t want to believe police are manipulative or that they’re not objective.

Now, in fairness… police think this way probably as a survival mechanism.  They see the underbelly of humanity and much of the time — their instinct and hunches are right about dealing with a scumbag more often than they are wrong.

What happens when the police go into “scumbag” mode and they’re not dealing with a scumbag?  They arrest people doing nothing wrong in Starbucks.  What is more likely than a national scandal is police hassling a young person, a non-conformist, or as all too often is the case, a minority for much longer than they’d deal with a soccer-mom from the suburbs.

Next time you see a story about police hassling someone for far too long remember they’re doing it because of their job pressures and because they’ve been triggered to go into their “scumbag” mode.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas.

 


Top 5 Most Common Police Attitudes – #3

May 13, 2018

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

Today I’m continuing my series on the top 5 police officer attitudes I’ll see when defending cases.  These are police attitudes I see from police officers while on duty.

#3 — CYA

That’s right. Cover your a$$.

One of the psychological pressures on officers is maintaining their livelihood.  They don’t want to lose their job or their pension over any single case.

I see this one mostly in cases where there is an alleged victim involved such as domestic assault, sexual assault or complicated theft schemes to name a few.  A police officer knows an upset accuser (or the accusers parents) can cause them all sorts of headaches with his or her superiors at the station.

For assault/ family violence cases police are worried if they leave a couple warring in their home after a 911 call — one of them could be killed later in the evening.

On sexual abuse cases whether involving adults or children, a police officer is going to have to have a really good explanation to their superiors as to why they told an angry person claiming to be a victim, “no, we don’t believe you.”

Police will often file cases as “grand jury referrals” which is their way of filing a case with the District Attorney’s office while expressing an underlying doubt about the case.  It is a case where they don’t make an arrest prior to grand jury.  It can be seen as unwritten permission to dump a case.  Grand juries may still indict, though.

It sucks to be on the receiving end of a case where you suspect it was filed because the officer was doing CYA work.  It has to be dealt with like anything else.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas.


Why Rural Counties are Harsher on Crime

January 11, 2018

By Collin County Criminal Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

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Most criminal defense lawyers will tell you the smaller the county, the meaner they are.

The New York Times agrees.  They wrote this article last year with an interactive map showing precise data from almost every county in the United States about their incarceration rates… and just as importantly…. their percentage of increase or decrease in the last decade.

The article focuses on Dearborn County, Indiana.  They sentenced a drug addict charged with possession of heroine to 35 years of prison.  You read that correctly.  The collection of small towns by the Ohio river jails more people than San Francisco and Durham COMBINED.

My practice is in Collin County, Texas.  It is the suburbs.  We are the 7th most populous county in Texas and the 63rd biggest county in the country according to Wikipedia on the date of the publication of this blog.  Being a bigger county, I don’t think we remotely resemble Dearborn County, Indiana.

From our Collin County base we see it all.  In addition to Collin, we practice in urban Dallas and Tarrant Counties.  We have neighboring suburban counties to our own in Denton and Rockwall Counties.  From time to time we have the occasion to practice in neighboring rural counties Grayson, Hunt and Fannin Counties.

Here’s why I think we often have “tough sledding” in rural counties.

Rural Areas Have Less Meaningful Checks and Balances

Our system of justice is supposed to have built-in safeguards in the form of checks and balances.  When those safeguards aren’t working — things go haywire.

Volume

Probably the largest unseen hand in any courthouse is that of volume.  Dallas and Tarrant counties have more cases than they know what to do with.

“Depth Perception” and Experiences

With greater volume the “extremes” are more pronounced… that is the most severe and egregious crimes tend to be much worse and the more borderline or unfair mishandled police investigations or prosecutions tend to be extremely bungled and unfair.

With greater volume tends to be greater “depth perception” about how egregious any single case might be to a prosecutor.

A Dallas prosecutor might deal with 10 shoplifting cases before lunch every day.  So an 11th case won’t be earth shattering to them.  The prosecutor, then, also learns some of the common underlying factors of shoplifting such as mental illness or youthful exuberance… and they probably also see collateral effects of petty theft like immigration headaches or loss of college opportunities.  An urban prosecutor might give sweetheart plea offers on the shoplifting cases just to get to a 10 minute lunch break — or so they can focus on a more egregious case they’d rather prosecute more strictly.

A rural prosecutor might have the same shoplifting case but there is potential to be more strict for no other reason than they might not have anything worse to prosecute… thoughtful and sincere as they might be.

Pressure to Move Cases

Prosecutors are under pressure to move cases through the system.  Big counties have more of them.  Of course, it is relative based on personnel… but bigger counties are more over-worked, plain and simple.

Prosecutors who are pressured to move cases will almost always make better plea offers and/ or dismiss borderline cases.

Defense Lawyers

As a criminal defense lawyer, I should be the single biggest safeguard of a defendant’s rights.  I can cross examine, investigate and subpoena.  I can appeal and point people to adversarial remedies.

Police don’t like getting cross examined and they don’t like being investigated themselves.  They don’t like being told they are wrong in closing argument.  This only makes them human.

We are human too.  It is perfectly natural for a defense lawyer to fear retaliation by an angry judge, prosecutor, or police officer who takes exception to something we might do to defend a client.

In Collin County, I have the benefit of knowing that if I upset a police officer while I’m doing my job — there is a good chance I’ll never run into them in public or get pulled over by them randomly.  The same is even true with prosecutors and judges.  Though I’ll obviously see them on a more routine basis — chances are the next time I see them after a heated battle will be a month or two down the road by which time the water is under the bridge.

The bigger the county — the more aggressive the defense lawyers can be.  This is important.  The more aggressive the defense lawyers — the more careful police, prosecutors, and judges are when they do their jobs.

Independence of the Courts and Law Enforcement

It is always troublesome going to a courthouse where you know the police and the prosecutors, and the Judge (and sometimes the defense lawyers too) are drinking coffee together in the morning.

There’s nothing overtly wrong about these relationships — but it is obvious it makes it harder for a defendant to get a fair shake.  Judges, prosecutors, and defense lawyers are people too (a recurring theme) and the friendlier and cozier they are will law enforcement, the harder it is for anyone to tell a police officer “no” on any given case.

In larger counties these relationships tend to be more at “arms length.”  That means there is greater separation — frankly for no other reason than it is impractical for everyone to work out of 3 or 4 offices on the same floor.

Again, there is nothing wrong with prosecutors having a close working relationship with law enforcement to include advising them, assisting them in attaining things like search warrants, or training them on courtroom procedure.  The problem comes when there is virtually no separation and over-fratinization.  Smaller counties struggle with this more probably for no other reason than their community is more tight-knit.

Appeals Courts

An appeal should also be a cross-check on local authority.  Chances are the appeals judge is somewhere else and can lend an outside view to what happened in the trial court.

The problem with appeals courts is when they become rubber-stamps.  Texas judges are elected.  I joke with juries if they ever see one run on a platform of “I’ll be easy on crime” to please let me know so I can go oppose that judge in the next election!

Particularly in rural counties — appeals courts have to act as a safeguard when it appears things are running haywire.  Just today I got campaign material from someone running for judge claiming he’s got former law enforcement experience and he’ll be extending his law enforcement to the bench he plans on winning.  Rural counties rejoice!  This judge won’t stop you from doing whatever you want as long as the prosecution wins.  I’d settle for, “I promise to be fair.”

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice about any situation you should contact an attorney directly.

 

 


24-Hour Criminal Lawyer

October 28, 2016

By Board Certified Collin County Criminal Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(214) 724-7065 (24-hour line)

www.rosenthalwadas.com

Call if you’re having a criminal law emergency.

Examples of things the lawyers at our office can help with 24/7 are:

  • Police want to interview you or a loved one about anything;
  • You have reason to believe you or a loved will are or soon will be investigated;
  • Law enforcement has just executed a search warrant on you or a loved one;
  • A loved one has been arrested for a felony or Class B Misdemeanor or higher and you don’t know what to do;
  • A loved one is being held in jail without bond;
  • You or a loved one are concerned about probation violations;
  • Any other type of “bomb-shell” which you know or suspect needs a lawyer;

Criminal law emergencies come in many shapes and forms, so if you have a question please call.  (Please, no traffic tickets or traffic warrants).

All calls are confidential pursuant to Tex.R.Evid. 503(b)(2).  Rosenthal & Wadas has a team of 7 lawyers so someone will be available 24/7 to help.

 

Common Mistakes People Make With Criminal Law Emergencies

  • They Self-Diagnose on the Computer

There is only so much you can google about a situation where someone has an urgent criminal legal problem.  There is no substitute for picking up the phone and calling a lawyer who has handled thousands of cases.  If you had a true medical emergency, would you call 911 or would you go to a search engine?

  • They panic too Little

I can’t tell you how often someone comes into my office after it’s too late.  They considered calling a lawyer earlier but because they didn’t their situation is worse than it was before.  People often follow their gut instinct which is understandable.  The problem when you face an unknown and new situation is “you don’t know what you don’t know.”  We’ve handled thousands of cases.  We can tell you if there is a problem or not and what to do.

 

  • They Panic too Much

We can help ease the stress for some problems — which just aren’t problems.  We do see plenty of cases where someone or their loved one is worried sick about a situation that isn’t worth the mental strain of the worry.  Nothing makes us happier than to give some good news and help people understand criminal proceedings, consequences, or jail is simply unrealistic or far-fetched.

Your Call is Welcome 24/7

If you’re having a criminal law emergency, please call (again, no traffic tickets or warrants please).  If you’re just web-surfing then put the phone number in your phone.  I hope you never need it, but putting it in your phone is absolutely free and it could save you valuable time if you ever do need to find a criminal lawyer in a hurry.

 

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice about any situation you should consult an attorney directly.