There are similarities and differences between my previous public defender clients and my current private criminal defense clients. There is also sometimes a difference in the way in which I respond to these clients.
For example, every client, rich or poor, wants to know whether their case will get dismissed. Of course, a dismissal is the holy grail of all criminal cases, but I'm still always a little taken aback when clients ask, "Why don't they just dismiss this case?"
I think that I was a little more tell-it-like-it-is with my public defender clients. I don't think I was rude in anyway, but I rarely felt that it was necessary for me to sugar-coat the truth.
So, to a public defender client, I might have responded, "Well, they went through the trouble of investigating you, getting a warrant for you, arresting you, and indicting you. A dismissal isn't going to just come easy now. The most likely way for your case to get dismissed is that the prosecutor finds a big screw up in your case, or if you can give me something good to show the prosecutor. Think about it, look over the paperwork about the case, and we'll see if we can figure something out."
With my private clients, they pay not not to have me explain the sad realities of the justice system, or to brainstorm with them, but to just fix it. And so, I say something like, "Yes, I'd really like to see your case get dismissed too. It's not easy, but I'm working on it."
After my tell-it-like-it-is explanation, most of my public defender clients would respond pretty positively. Some would say "Those cops are lying!" but there were some that said that to everything.
But, after my upbeat-but-vague answer, do you know what the private clients say to me?
"Ok, but how much more would I have to pay you to just case the get dismissed?"
"How much to *you know* just take care of the case?"
As if I'm going to walk over to the D.A. and say "Psst! Here's $20. Can you just dismiss that case? No? $50? Oh, ok, great, thanks."
What, am I going to do that only for you and not for any of my other clients? You don't think the judge is ever going to catch on? "Gee, all of Blonde Justice's cases just get dismissed instantly - she must be really good."
Do you think maybe that might be a little improper? And, if I was going to blow my whole career like that, don't you think I'd do it for a client I actually liked?
Or, don't you think I'd charge you a heck of a lot more?