the Best Criminal Defense Strategy
Criminal Defense Lessons from Sun Tzu's The Art of War
Sun Tzu is best known as a military commander, strategist, and
philosopher. He is believed to have lived approximately 2500 years ago
in China. But the theories of military strategy attributed to him in
The Art of War
continue to influence our world today.
The American criminal justice system is based on adversarial
principles that have sometimes been compared to a "war" between
prosecutor and defense. Certain ideas from Sun Tzu's military
philosophy can contribute to developing the best criminal defense
strategy. With the assistance of an experienced Utah criminal defense
, these principles can help you reach the best
outcome for your
criminal defense case.
greatest victory is that which requires no battle."
According to Sun Tzu, the best victories are achieved when the opponent
surrenders on its own before any actual fighting begins. In any
military combat, there is some risk. Achieving one’s goal without
having to risk anything from your side is the ideal combat situation.
Some criminal defense attorneys assert that an "aggressive"
strategy will help their clients most. But just as there is always some
risk in military combat, there are also risks any time a criminal
defense case goes to jury trial.
Sun Tzu wrote, "To subdue the enemy without fighting is the epitome of
skill." If it is possible to gain a victory without going into the
formal battle of a jury trial, then the risks and costs of extended
criminal litigation can be avoided.
A dismissal prior to jury trial based on legal motions can provide the
same benefits as a jury's not guilty verdict, but without the risks and
costs associated with trial. A plea in abeyance can provide certainty
by giving the defendant control over the outcome of the case, rather
than leaving the results to the judgment of a jury. A negotiated
resolution may provide a guarantee that a felony conviction and prison
time will be avoided. If the necessary results can be achieved without
taking the criminal case to trial, that may provide the defendant with
the greatest victory.
"Know your enemy, and know yourself."
"If you know your enemy
and know yourself, you need not fear the result
of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not your enemy, for
every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither
your enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle."
- Sun Tzu
Most criminal defendant's know their side of the story. "Knowing
yourself" is the first step to developing a successful defense
strategy. It is necessary to be familiar with the defense case inside
and out from the defender’s point of view - both the strengths and the
weaknesses. But beyond the obvious
"my side of the story," having a thorough understanding of the
statutes, the supporting case law, and other legal aspects is
critical to achieving victory. Knowing the client's side of the story
is important. But the best defense attorneys take the time to develop a
thorough understanding of the legal elements of the case.
It’s not unusual for a defendant to feel he or she has a strong case
when only his or her point of view is considered. The problem with this
defense approach is that
the prosecuting attorney has different point of view. A good criminal
attorney must also analyze the case from the vantage point of the
prosecutor, and consider
every angle, every weakness where the case can be attacked and
defeated. With this broader perspective, the defense attorney can also
weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case and how best to handle them. This
careful preparation creates a strong defense because the criminal
attorney also "knows the enemy."
The worst position in defending a criminal case comes about when there
is neither an understanding of the defense case nor of the prosecution.
If this is true, then as Sun Tzu said, "you will succumb in every
"He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be
There are a lot of criminal defense attorneys who claim to be
"aggressive." The reality is that an "aggressive" approach is not
always the best approach. There are times when diplomacy, finesse, and
sophisticated legal argument are more likely to achieve the needed
Sun Tzu suggests that there are times when it is advantageous
to engage in a fight, and times when it is not so. A successful
military strategist must be able to make ongoing, realistic
assessments of himself and the opposition, and adjust his strategy
accordingly. Similarly, a successful criminal defense attorney must be
able to distinguish between arguments and motions that are likely to
succeed and those that are not, and craft a legal defense strategy
tailored to suit the specific facts of the case and circumstances of
Finding a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City
you are facing prosecution for criminal charges in Utah, it is vital to
have the assistance of an experienced
criminal defense attorney. Beyond finding an attorney who is
"aggressive," it is important to find an attorney who has the legal
skills and abilities to help you achieve the results you need. For some
cases, this may mean fighting the case through to jury trial. But for
many cases, the necessary results can be achieved by other means.
Based in Salt Lake City, criminal attorney
Howard has successfully protected his clients' rights in thousands of felony
cases. He has achieved victories through jury
, legal motions, appeals
and successful plea
. His track record includes successful outcomes
in some of the most serious felony charges on the books in Utah,
including homicide, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, burglary, drug
, forgery, theft, fraud, and more. He has also
successfully handled a wide variety of misdemeanor charges, including
DUI, domestic violence, alcohol charges, marijuana
, drug paraphernalia
retail theft, intoxication, and more. Mr. Howard also assists clients
in clearing or reducing their records through the expungement
process and 402
With offices centrally located in downtown Salt Lake City, Mr. Howard
provides legal services to clients throughout Utah. Contact
us today to arrange
for an initial confidential consultation.
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