Legal dramas are incredibly popular in Australia, because there is something so satisfying about seeing criminal justice meted out in an easy to follow one-hour slot. Criminal lawyers tend to be shown as mavericks, who make their own rules inside and outside of the court. In real life criminal lawyers have to abide by rules of law and legal process in the same way that prosecution and judges also follow strict legal processes.
Here are four things you might see criminal defence lawyers do on TV, that they won't do in real life.
Enter into a romantic relationship with their clients
If the client enters into a romantic relationship with their lawyer, a lawyer who wishes to remain in practice and pursue the relationship will move the client into the service of another lawyer. Due to the romantic entanglement, the question of whether the client is openly agreeing to legal strategy or is feeling under pressure to agree to romantic overtures to maintain legal support becomes unclear.
Push ahead with their own strategy against the wishes of clients
A lawyer that proceeds against the wishes of their clients, in terms of pleas or strategy, can be then found guilty of professional misconduct and opens grounds for appeal. In most cases the lawyer will insist on signed statements of intent before the case goes to trial.
Lawyers on both sides have a duty to disclose all relevant documentation to the court. While there is some discretion exercised by both parties on the relevance of documents to be provided during discovery, the professional standards are clear that lawyers cannot act in a deliberately deceptive manner, which destroying evidence would clearly fall within.
Drink excessively/turn up to court under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
By turning up to court under the influence the defendant would be able to apply for an appeal on the bounds of ineffective counsel/professional negligence.
In all cases a lawyer court acting in these ways not only risks being reprimanded, fined or disbarred by the Law Society (as judged by their peers), they would also be open to being pursued by the client for fees and damages as result of poor practise. This would result in loss of incomes and reputation for the lawyer.
Hence the interesting TV lawyer behaviours aren't seen as much in your local court, luckily enough, but make for great entertainment. If you're facing an upcoming case, contact real criminal lawyers like Northside Lawyers.