Many people question why I wanted to be a criminal defense attorney. Some angrily accuse me of defending “bad guys” and of helping make the streets of Palm Beach County more dangerous. A common comment I hear when introducing myself is: “Boy, I hope I never need you!” But what many people fail to realize is that “regular people” find themselves in trouble with the law every day. Teachers, students, lawyers, doctors, stay at home moms, architects, engineers – people from every walk of life can encounter legal troubles. Today, a Fort Pierce, Florida police officer was arrested for DUI. Good people make bad mistakes. It is not always the “bad guys” who are arrested or who need a criminal defense lawyer.
The reality is that anyone at any given point in his or her life might need a criminal defense attorney some day. Good kids often make mistakes, such as getting into fights at school, and find themselves facing juvenile criminal charges. College students often go to parties or sneak into bars, drink alcohol even though they are underage, and find themselves facing misdemeanor criminal charges. College kids also experiment with drugs and when caught, find themselves facing misdemeanor charges or felony charges, depending on the illegal substance, that could affect the rest of their lives. People speed and drive recklessly. People smoke marijuana. People get mad and hit other people during arguments. People drink a little too much alcohol and drive home from work functions and cocktail hours every day.
“Good people” do “bad things” all the time. Hardened criminals who are in a never-ending loop of prison time and probation violations are not the only people who need help.
When someone is arrested, regardless of their background, they are entitled to an attorney on their side to walk them through the criminal justice system, make sure that their rights aren’t being violated, and hold the State to the presumption of innocence until a person is proven guilty.
Casey Reiter is an associate attorney at Stuart R. Manoff & Associates, P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida, practicing in the areas of Criminal Defense and Marital Law.