The Philosophy of a Certified Criminal Defense Lawyer

When you’re accused of a crime, the stakes are high. With your future and reputation on the line, you must appeal to those responsible for deciding your fate. Now, I’m not going to sugarcoat it: going to trial is hard. While we like to say defendants are innocent until proven guilty, juror judgment usually gets in the way. My job is to defend your coveted liberties against the opinions of strangers in an otherwise cold courtroom.

So how should you appeal to the prosecutor, or a panel of your peers and the judge? How can you get them on your side? My philosophy is to use the honey over vinegar approach. Over the years I have found the best way to change hearts and minds is to humanize my clients in the eyes of others.

To do this, I need to thoroughly understand your background, psychological tendencies, and personality traits. I need to find answers to these questions: Who are you as a person? Are you invested in your community? What is your relationship with your family? How do you treat others?  And if you made a mistake, to answer the question the judge most wants to know, why did it happen?

To this end, I must learn everything about your background, extensively interviewing you to pinpoint the most positive aspects of your life; those that might better connect you with strangers. For instance, perhaps you volunteer every summer to help foster children. Maybe you are involved in your church or coach a local sports team. These types of anecdotes will enable the judge to better see themselves in you.

When I meet with you, I will also identify a reason for your actions if you are pleading guilty or plea-bargaining. I need to convince the judge this was a rare, one-time incident in an otherwise clean life. My goal, my job, is to highlight positive traits and unusual circumstances. Doing so makes you sympathetic. A judge may understand this was a fluke incident in an otherwise good and productive life and this is a valid reason to give you the best deal in the courtroom.

Then, after accumulating additional positive evidence about you, I assemble what’s called a mitigation packet. This report includes proof of your commendable character to be presented to the judge. In preparing this document, I ask you to collect letters from 10 different people attesting to your upstanding character. These letters can include those familiar with your work history, academic achievements, family and/or civic life. The key is to paint a portrait of you as a solid individual liked and respected by your friends, colleagues, and loved ones.

After ensuring the evidence backs all the statements, I present it to the judge. (I don’t want to gain a reputation of being a lawyer who falsely says nice things about his clients—the facts have to be substantiated.) Based on what I submit to the judge, he or she can get a different sense of you when reviewing the case. Instead of seeing you as a “defendant,” they often now see you as a person. Also, this mitigation packet is another way to say, “What happened is abnormal behavior for my client. At this particular time, my client was going through personal issues which resulted in an unusual action. Therefore, we needn’t punish this individual harshly.”

Counter evidence like this is what humanizes my clients and challenges the pre-determined opinions of jurors, prosecutors and judges, leading to more favorable outcomes. If you or someone you know needs a lawyer who will present them in the best possible light, don’t hesitate to contact me at 714 543-2266 or

Chase Geiser