When you are a defendant, it is imperative to work closely with your attorney to have the best outcome possible for your case. Unfortunately, there are defendants who not only make their lawyer's job harder, but if they are found guilty, they are more likely to receive the harshest punishment possible for the offense.
Sometimes, lawyers struggle with defiant clients who do nothing to help their case. Rarely, the underlying issue can be paranoia associated with mental illness, but in many cases, the problem is arrogance or fundamental distrust of lawyers. This can lead to defendants who choose to represent themselves in court, which is never a good option. Additionally, a defendant who is inherently suspicious of their lawyer will not provide them with all the necessary information about the case to provide an adequate defense. Rest assured, whatever you tell your lawyer about your case is privileged information, and your lawyer is working in your best interest. Remember, they want to win the case as much as you do.
Avoiding Mitigation Evidence
In some instances, mitigation evidence may be admissible, especially in the instance of a jury trial. Although this does not affect guilt or innocence, it can help a defendant when a jury has discretion about punishment. Sometimes, defendants do not want mitigation evidence presented, which can eliminate any possibility of reduced punishment if they are found guilty. Typically, defendants who avoid mitigating evidence have something to hide. They may be embarrassed about sensitive issues, such as coming from an abusive household or their struggles with mental illness. Additionally, they may be concerned about exploiting the people closest to them. Talking about abuse, especially sexual abuse by a family member, can mean a family's "dirty laundry" is out in the open.
Taking The Stand
Although you have the right to take the stand in your own trial, if your lawyer thinks it's not in your best interest, not following their recommendation can be disastrous. There can be many reasons why your lawyer feels that taking the stand is not a good idea. One reason is you are subjecting yourself to cross-examination by the prosecutor, which can quickly back you into a corner and you cannot recover from the testimony. If you have anger management issues or cannot otherwise present yourself in a calm and professional manner, you may not look good in front of jurors, especially if the case is one of violence. A defendant who uses profanity or slang, lacks remorse, or displays other signs consistent with callousness or immaturity will only create an uphill battle for their lawyer.
It's pointless to have a lawyer and only work against them, not with them. A good defense means assisting your attorney throughout the process and taking their advice.