Defense attorney to new client:

I am a very old public defender, so I am going to tell it like it is.  We are each responsible for our actions, like it or not.  And this is not about punishment.  So try to separate that in your mind.  Separate your responsibility from any possible punishment you might be facing.  Because focusing on punishment is the thinking pattern of someone who thinks everything is fine as long as he doesn’t get caught.  That is wrong thinking.  That is not responsible.

It seems like you have hesitations about taking responsibility for this domestic violence assault.  And from what you just said, it is based on the fact that you are hoping the victim will be reluctant to testify.  That is likely.  Domestic violence is hard to prove, and victims are reluctant for very good reasons.  Your victim may not show up.

If she doesn’t, the judge has to decide whether to let the case go to trial without a material witness.  They have to decide if there is enough in the record to let the case go to the jury without live testimony from the alleged victim.  They will consider the 911 tape, the police report, and if I cannot get it suppressed, the videotaped interview with her on the evening of the event.  The judge has to decide about all that.  But as a suspect, you have a different decision to make.

You just told me that it did happen, and that is has happened before.  So listen to an old lawyer, if you will.  You can choose to embrace treatment, with all that entails, and sign up for a dispositional continuance.  That puts the outcome of the case in your hands.  If you follow through, you end up with no conviction.  If you mess up, the judge will read the police report, you will have no trial, and you will almost certainly get a conviction, with all that entails.

Or you can go to trial.  If she doesn’t show up, they might drop the case.  Or they might convict you.  We just don’t know.  You might get lucky.

But with what you have told me, will this be the last time you end up in court?  Have any of your issues resolved, without treatment?  Don’t answer me right now.  I am going to ask for a continuance.  And I suggest you consult your pillow and decide whether you are ready to take responsibility for your actions, and pull your life together.  Because from where I sit, you are going to be coming around again unless something changes.  And honestly, you don’t seem like the kind of guy who is going to follow through on treatment unless you have something like this hanging over your head.  Forgive an old lawyer for having an opinion.  It is based on experience.

One more thing to think about overnight: This could be life-changing for you.  This could be life-changing.  And I wish – and I wish – and I wish – that my words could help you to change your life.  But whatever.  Go consult your pillow, and make your decision.  See you next time.