As a federal criminal defense lawyer based in Chicago, I am often asked what are the key elements of a Top Chicago Federal Criminal Attorney.
It all starts with a track record of proven success in federal criminal jury trials.
It may come as a surprise, but many of the attorneys who hold themselves out as top Chicago federal criminal attorneys, or who are known as such, have never actually won a federal criminal jury trial in Chicago on behalf of a federal criminal defendant. For example, they may have won cases before juries in Chicago as federal prosecutors, but they have never represented a federal criminal defendant in a jury trial and obtained a not guilty jury verdict for that client. Alternatively, many of those attorneys have only won not guilty Counts on behalf of their clients, rather than winning the entire case for their clients.
To explain, in federal criminal cases, the defendant is often charged with multiple counts of alleged wrongdoing, sometimes as few as one or two Counts, and sometimes as many as dozens of different Counts. So, it is possible for a federal jury to return a verdict in favor of the defendant on one or more Counts (not guilty on some Counts), but still find the defendant guilty on other Counts, even dozens of other Counts. The difference in terms of the sentence that the defendant ultimately receives from the federal court judge, might not change at all, even though the defendant was found not guilty on one or more of the Counts. Alternatively, a complete not guilty jury verdict means that the jury has found the federal criminal defendant not guilty of each and every Count charged by the government More importantly, that means that the defendant walks free and is spared any federal prison time at all – which, in some cases, can be dozens of years behind bars.
Thus, I have become recognized as a top Chicago federal criminal attorney because, in six different federal criminal trials, I have obtained complete not guilty jury verdicts in favor of my defendant clients. That means that, in each and every of those six federal criminal cases, my clients walked out of the federal courthouse in Chicago as free men and women, and avoided serving anywhere from several years to dozens of years in federal prisons.
In several other federal criminal cases, including one during the middle of a federal criminal jury trial in Chicago, all charges have been dismissed against my clients – again, resulting in them entirely avoiding serving any federal prison time at all. I am proud of those results, and that track record of success has clearly contributed to my reputation as a top Chicago federal criminal attorney.
A top Chicago federal criminal attorney is also one who investigates and prepares each case as if it is going to be tried by the jury. This means that the attorney needs to do more than fixate on the potential obstacles to winning the case, and the applicable and usually harsh Federal Sentencing Guidelines, and attempt to devise a winning strategy based upon the evidence and law, and after consultation with the client and potential witnesses.
A top Chicago federal criminal attorney is one who thinks outside the box, and is willing to take on the federal prosecutors and the United States Attorneys’ Office in Chicago. There is never a downside to pursuing a well-thought out and carefully reasoned motion, even if it raises novel factual or legal issues and even if it is one that is typically not granted.
Finally, because the Federal Sentencing Guidelines play such an important, and one can easily say, outsized role in federal criminal cases, a top Chicago federal criminal attorney must be extremely knowledgeable and well-versed in those Guidelines, and willing to push back against their often harsh application. Equally important, a top Chicago federal criminal attorney is one who makes every effort to develop, and to argue at sentencing, what are known as the “3553 factors” – in other words, all of the mitigating factors that the attorney can argue merit a much lower sentence than the one being sought by the federal prosecutors or which is suggested or recommended by the “PSR” or Pre-Sentence Report that is prepared by United States Probation and submitted to the sentencing Judge.
In sum, a top Chicago federal criminal attorney is who has succeeded in the past in federal criminal jury trials by obtaining not guilty jury verdicts for his/her clients, and who is willing to take all steps that are necessary to ensure that the next federal criminal client can be put in the best position to experience that same success.
-Michael Leonard Leonard Trial Lawyers