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Client-Centered Advocacy: Empowering Individuals to Reclaim Their Lives

Client-Centered Advocacy: Empowering Individuals to Reclaim Their Lives
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In the age of mass incarceration in America, anyone can find themselves facing serious charges for things they didn’t think were a crime. A lot of discretion is given to prosecutors and judges in construing the laws and selecting who they can prosecute. Since our legal system operates on positive law instead of natural law, just about every aspect of law becomes a never-ending philosophical debate. There is always the weighing of public safety against the liberty interests of the defendant.

A system of pleas has replaced the constitutional system of trials, thereby creating the presumption that innocence is rare instead of a presumption of innocence. If 95 percent of all state defendants and 97 of all federal defendants never go to trial and instead plead guilty, it is easy to justify lengthy pretrial incarceration. See Missouri v. Frye, 566 U.S. 134 (2012).

Considering how the system is stacked against individuals, the most successful criminal defense attorneys are employing a method called client-centered advocacy to provide the best outcome for their clients.

How is Client-Centered Advocacy Beneficial?

In the past, attorneys simply obtained the Discovery evidence from the prosecution and studied the applicable laws to determine whether their client had a defense, usually recommending a plea bargain at some point to mitigate the potential risks of loss.

Nowadays, attorneys who want to run a successful practice are deeply engaged with their clients and analyzing the case in greater detail. Attorneys want to provide the best representation possible and are often unable to do so without obtaining detailed information from the client instead of relying on the prosecutor’s evidence.

Using this type of client-centered advocacy, defense attorneys are often able to uncover exculpatory evidence and custom-tailored defenses that may otherwise be overlooked. For example, an attorney may be able to file a suppression motion if the defendant was arrested after a pretextual traffic stop if the search was not reasonably related to the infraction.

By obtaining details from the client, it may discover that he was held for long periods of time over a broken taillight in a fishing expedition for other evidence. This can result in a complete suppression and dismissal of even serious charges when the evidence was tainted and obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures.

When attorneys use these methods, they increase the chances of their clients obtaining alternative sentences, mitigated plea deals, and even acquittal. A compassionate attorney will put himself in the shoes of his client and empower the client to choose from a variety of options for his own defense. After all, it is the client who must suffer any negative consequences of his decision, not the attorney.


Considering the specialization of law and the technical nature between what is and isn’t lawful, it is important for defendants to seek out experienced attorneys who are compassionate and willing to work with them to secure the best outcome.

These attorneys are dedicated to building the strongest defense by examining all the tools available to them under the law and intimately involving the client in the process.