Monday, November 9, 2009

ACCUSED: What Are they Thinking?

[Note: I have represented and continue to represent those clients who are falsely accused and those whose charges are inflated, concocted, or exaggerated. These comments are not relective of them.]
I got into a short but interesting conversation today. The two lawyers were laughing at me. I think they missed the point.

When a person is contemplating committing a crime (many of course don't contemplate, they just do it), what goes through their head? Many say that someone who is going to commit a crime never do it with the idea they will get caught. I have a limited belief in this.

Consider this. Repeat offenders such as those convicted of theft or burglary have been caught before. They know they are vulnerable in some way to being apprehended and convicted just like the last time, yet they do it again and again. They continue to take the risk and prior to committing their actions, I believe, make a risk assessment. That is, whether its worth the chance on getting caught given the opportunity that presents itself and its perceived benefits.

What goes into a risk assessment? Whether conciously or unconciously, you can't help but think that whatever downside is associated with their potential actions, i.e. whatever happened last time they got caught, weighs in. Now, I don't think that most of my repeat-offender clients calculate the enhancements or keep up with the legislature on emerging trends. But I do believe that in the back of their mind, they are recalling their last experience at Del Valle, Travis County Jail, or prison. That experience will play in the risk assessment either way: either give them pause or comfort.
What about where the action is contemplated (This is where some of my colleagues and I really differ). I truly believe that the location of the contemplated action makes a difference. Of course it is one of many factors that one may consider. If a person is wavering on whether to take a chance on robbing a bank in Round Rock, for example, isn't that much-publicized 55 year sentence that was handed down in Williamson County some time ago going to play some role in the decision-making? To some folks not, but for some it will.
Some folks don't think any criminals think so sophisticated. I think those folks are naive. I do not profess to be an expert in this area beyond my experiences with my many clients of 16 years. But I have represented those that have planned extensively, were impulsive, or thought they were bulletproof and would never get caught. Believe me, there is a level of risk-taking, it just varies with the individual. And to those risk-takers, I'm always available for the aftermath.
My buddies wanted to be firemen, farmers or policemen, something like that. Not me, I just wanted to steal people's money! --John Dillinger

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