Technology increasingly rules our lives – what did we do before smartphones? – and criminal defense attorneys are especially reliant on tech that helps them defend clients. Keep in mind that jurors, and even defendants, are becoming more and more tech-oriented. The top of technology necessary also depends upon the nature of the crime. Every lawyer needs a smartphone and laptop – but criminal defense lawyers need technologies going beyond those basics.
While every attorney may have his or her preference when it comes to work-related tech, here are three technologies that every practicing criminal defense lawyer needs today. It’s safe to say that if a lawyer isn’t using these tech tools, they aren’t giving their clients the best defense possible.
For a criminal defense lawyer, DNA technology is absolutely essential. The evidence or absence of DNA can convict or clear someone accused of a felony offense. In the former situation, the criminal defense lawyer must find flaws in the way the DNA was collected, handled throughout the chain of evidence or otherwise contaminated to exonerate his or her client. DNA databases may reveal suspects other than the attorney’s client. The exact likelihood of one individual’s DNA matching another is infinitesimal – roughly 1 billion to one. While a positive DNA identification isn’t good news for a defense attorney, the lack of a DNA match often exonerates the defendant.
DNA evidence is not used just for defendants currently on trial. Many unjustly imprisoned people have spent years behind bars until physical evidence remaining from their case is re-examined using DNA technology to clear them of the crime. One caveat: Jurors who watch a lot of TV crime shows may harbor unrealistic ideas about DNA evidence, the so-called CSI effect. There is always the possibility that tiny amounts of DNA at a crime scene can falsely incriminate someone.
When a client is arrested for a DUI, a DUI lawyer must know the ins, outs, and limitation of breathalyzer technology. Breathalyzers measure the amount of alcohol on the breath and from that measure a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). DUI lawyers must familiarize themselves with the types of breathalyzers used, as well as the ways in which that particular technology may prove inaccurate.
Trial Presentation Technology
Gone are the days of slideshows and fumbling for paper documents. Today, criminal defense attorneys use trial presentation technology, designed for use with either a laptop or iPad. While there are a number of such programs available, the best ones include the following features:
- Instant document retrieval
- Instant photograph retrieval
- Instant deposition video retrieval
- Instant PowerPoint retrieval
Trial presentation technology allows lawyers to pull up contradicting testimony from an opposing witness or ask the witness to explain contradictory testimony highlighted on a screen.
Changes Will Continue
As technology proceeds at its rapid pace, today’s top tech tools for criminal defense lawyers will change as well. It’s crucial for defense attorneys to stay on top of tech developments, as these are the tools necessary for the successful defense of clients.