Crying in Criminal Court – Can it Help Your Case?

We’ve all seen a defendant break down in court. Well, most of us who have spent any time in a courtroom have witnessed this. But the New York Times this week looks at the crying defendant and asks what good does it do and is it ever planned.

Most defense lawyers scoff at the idea of planning a crying episode with their clients, though some admit to talking about whether to hold back the tears or let them come, if you are welling up. Judges, however, seem to be rarely affected by the waterworks.

“You feel embarrassment for the defendant; I did, anyway,” says one judge. But feeling embarrassment for the defendant is a far cry from feeling sorry for them. “He feels poorly because he got caught,” that same judge goes on to say.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, are more likely to mask disgust when the defendant begins to cry. “The thought going through your mind is: ‘You got to be kidding me,’” says one prosecutor. Their approach is largely to ignore the sniveling and move forward with their legal lashing.

Despite the belief that some defendants– particularly those big time suspects who stand accused of pilfering millions, for instance—cry to win sympathy and merely as an act, most defendants who weep in court are likely doing it because they are genuinely scared and even possibly remorseful. Though the motivations behind the tears still won’t likely sway a judge, sincere tears are less likely to elicit disgust than those that are an obvious ploy.

When you are charged with a crime, the court isn’t looking for an act; they are looking for the truth. Any effort to lie or act your way out of a criminal charge will often be seen straight through. Judges aren’t new to this and it can be pretty difficult to feign remorse when it simply isn’t there.

While no ethical defense lawyer will tell you to cry during trial, they can give you advice on how to conduct yourself in a professional and ethical manner. Whether you are pleading guilty or fighting a charge, there are some definite dos and don’ts in the courtroom.

If you are accused of violating a criminal law, you want someone on your side willing to tell it like it is, someone who will be completely honest with you and your chances of success in court. Let us put you in contact with a local defense lawyer today—one who may be able to help you with your case.

About David Matson