Coiner's Corner

A “Guaranteed” Outcome in a Criminal Case?

Posted by Andrew Coiner | Jan 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

Many callers say: I talked to (insert local TV-advertising lawyer here) and (he or she) guarantees me probation for (insert heinous crime here, such as axe-murdering your nosy neighbor). What can you do?

Don't get me wrong, hire a confident, experienced criminal defense lawyer with a solid working relationship with others involved in the criminal justice system. Your lawyer should have the skills, expertise and confidence to achieve the best possible result. But a “guarantee?” I don't think so.

Lawyers cannot ethically make guarantees. Neither can your doctor. Gall-bladder removal is a simple procedure, but your surgeon won't guarantee you'll get up from the operating table. If a lawyer communicates an unethical guarantee, check yourself for a second and consider if you want to pay your hard-earned long green to an attorney who isn't shooting straight from the get-go. Then take another second to consider whether it's smart to be represented by someone who goes all Punxsutawney Phil on you.

When confronted with this query I often say, “My crystal ball is in the shop today and if it wasn't your fee quote would be significantly higher.” Even if I've handled a case with a fact pattern like yours, and in believe me I've heard a LOT of fact patterns, a “guarantee” is an opinion about an outcome. And predictions for criminal case outcomes are just like noses, or a*sholes, everybody's got one.

Laws change, prosecutors' policies change and Judges' attitudes change. One prosecutor may pretrial divert you and another may want jail time (especially if you axe-murdered your neighbor). In Kentucky, we have 120 counties. Each county has at least two prosecutors, a county attorney and a Commonwealth attorney. Each county has at least two Judges, a District Judge and a Circuit Judge. Recommended punishment for crimes committed will wildly vary. Some Judges change daily on the outcomes they will approve.

If you elect to have your case decided by a jury, a lawyer can never predict the outcome. We've all lost cases we thought we would win and won cases that appeared to be losers.  Just because your second cousin's buddy knows a guy who heard a guy who got probated on manslaughter second doesn't mean a jury won't give you 10, which is the maximum, and a lovely orange suit as a parting gift.

So be skeptical of the “guaranteed” outcome offered by a lawyer in a criminal case. It's not ethical, intelligent or professional. Hire a lawyer who will give you an educated, honest opinion on the range of outcomes possible in your case. Now excuse me, I've got to take a call. The Crystal Ball Repair Shop is on line one.

About the Author

Andrew Coiner

I have been representing people accused of crimes and victims of the negligence of others in Paducah since 1994.  Before opening my Paducah office, I worked in two large Kentucky law firms.  Working for large law firms made me realize I'd rather help a person injured in a car wreck caused by another driver's negligence than work for the negligent driver's insurance company. I served two Kentucky governors in economic development positions.  I am proud to have created jobs for the working men and women of Kentucky.  Before working in economic development, I served a stint as a legislative liaison and a special prosecutor in the Kentucky Attorney General's office. Before my legal career, I worked in a drug store, hardware, as a ditch digger and as a newspaper reporter.  I worked my way through Ashland Community College, Marshall University and the University Of Kentucky College Of Law. I handle criminal and personal injury cases in the western Kentucky counties of McCracken, Ballard, Carlisle, Marshall, Hickman, Graves, Livingston, Crittenden, Fulton, Caldwell and Lyon.  I also represent clients in the United States District Courts, Eastern and Western District of Kentucky, including Paducah, Fort Campbell and Owensboro.  I have also successfully represented clients in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati,Ohio.   I have been honored by my peers with Martindale Hubbell's prestigious AV rating for achieving and maintaining very high ethical conduct and preeminent legal ability. I have also been selected by my peers as a Kentucky Super Lawyer. Kentucky Monthly magazine selected me as one of the top attorneys in Kentucky. The National Trial Lawyers selected me as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer. If you are facing federal or state criminal charges or have been injured because of someone's negligence, call me for an honest evaluation of your case.  If you've got a great case, I'll tell you.  If you got a case with problems, I'll tell you that too.  I will put my reputation, experience and expertise to work for you.  Your case deserves the attention of an experienced trial lawyer.  

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Attorney Andrew Coiner

I will personally contact you after receiving your call or email. You will not be handed off to an associate lawyer, paralegal or secretary.

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If you are facing federal or state criminal charges or have been injured because of someone's negligence, call me for an honest evaluation of your case.