The other day I was up in Indiana County to represent a client in a criminal case. He was charged with a host of crimes, including corruption of minors. My client is 19 years old and has no prior record. At the Preliminary Hearing, the Assistant District Attorney said that he could offer me no more than straight probation, based on the allegations. The problem with entering a plea to corruption of minors and getting probation is, of course, that my 19 year old client would have a criminal record for the rest of his life. Realistically, any time he went for a job, and it came up to the employer what he was convicted of or plead guilty to, namely corruption of the morals of minors, it would be unlikely that he would get the job.
I was sitting in the Courtroom, about to enter the plea to the charge, when I decided to go downstairs to the District Attorney’s office. I met with the Indiana County District Attorney himself and talked to him about the problem, as well as what my concerns were for my client’s future. Incredibly, the Indiana County District Attorney said that he would review the file and that he understood my concerns. Further, he said he would not oppose allowing my client to go into the ARD Program, provided that the victims did not object.
This is an example about what I should do in every case. A lot of times I don’t. It really does come down to attorneys being persistent and really doing everything possible, legally and ethically, to represent their clients in the best manner they can.
I don’t know if he will get into the ARD Program or not, but I do know it felt good when I was driving home to Pittsburgh from Indiana, knowing I did everything I could to help the client. Trust me when I say I don’t always feel that way after a client’s case is over. A lot of times I feel like, if I had just done one thing or another better or been more persistent, I could have got a better deal for my client. Then I feel guilty for letting the client down. I am not at all unusual in this regard. Most criminal defense attorneys feel that way in representing their clients. We want to do the best we can and sometimes we are successful and other times we fall short.