You may be wondering why you need a defense attorney for a DWI, especially if it’s a misdemeanor. Someone may have suggested that you “handle it yourself,” and save the money on attorney’s fees. Before making that decision, you should understand what defense counsel does for anyone accused of DWI.

In both criminal and civil matters, a defense attorney is an advocate for the accused. The attorney is responsible for protecting the client’s rights and interests and making sure the law and the court process works as it should. Beyond that, defense counsel also understands the applicable law and how it applies to each case.

Despite the perception that defense counsel’s focus is to “get the client off,” the truth is that the purpose is much different. It’s about ensuring that an accused person is given a fair trial, and that the court system works as it should.  If mistakes were made by police, by the prosecutor, a witness, or anyone else, it’s a defense attorney’s job to bring them to light and use them for the client’s defense.

Defense attorneys take unpopular and frequently high-profile cases to ensure that these defendants receive a fair trial, no matter what the evidence or charges. 

Case Assessment

In order to defend someone, defense counsel needs a complete understanding of every detail in his or her client’s case. The first step is to gather and examine evidence, including police reports and crime scene information (or the scene itself if necessary.) There will also be interviews with state witnesses and any witnesses for the accused, some of which may be completed by investigators. Every piece of evidence is reviewed and possibilities considered to determine the next steps.

At this point, the attorney has enough information to determine his client’s chances of conviction or acquittal, the best way to present the case in trial, and begin building a defense strategy.

Plea Bargaining

Frequently, the prosecutor (or the state’s lawyer) contacts the accused defense attorney to offer a “plea bargain.” This is an offer to the defendant to plead guilty to a lesser charge than he or she is being charged with in exchange for a lighter sentence and potentially less or no jail time (if it’s involved.)

The defense attorney will consider, based on the investigation and assessment, whether or not the plea bargain is in the client’s best interest. He or she will then discuss the plea bargain with the client, and negotiate with the prosecutor, possibly for a better deal.

The Trial

It’s up to a client to decide whether or not to accept a plea bargain, although the defense attorney advises the client on the best option. If the client rejects the plea bargain in favor of trial, the defense attorney takes the defense built earlier into the courtroom, participating in jury selection to select the jurors that will be most beneficial for the client’s case.

The defense attorney then presents evidence and testimony according to Missouri’s rules to exonerate the client in front of a judge or a jury panel.

The Essence Of Defense

The American Bar Association offers Criminal Justice Standards for The Defense Function on its website in its entirety. One statement stands out in the section Standard 4-1.2 Functions and Duties of Defense Counsel:

Defense counsel is essential to the administration of criminal justice. 

Without it, falsely accused people would go to jail without any hope of getting help. If you’re arrested and charged with DWI, defense counsel is your best weapon against a charge that may or may not be correct.

The Shostak Law Firm For DWI

A DWI arrest and conviction is a complicated area of law, requiring legal expertise to ensure that your case is handled correctly. Grant Shostak is an experienced DWI defense attorney who understands the process and will work to protect your rights and that you are treated fairly.

Don’t wait—if you’ve been arrested, call today at (314) 380-3059, or email You can also learn more in our free e-book, Missouri DWI Survival Guide. Download it and read more to help you make an informed decision about your next move.

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