I started my legal career prosecuting cases on behalf of the citizens of the State of Georgia as an Assistant District Attorney. I left the District Attorney’s office to own my own business and used my prosecutorial experience to help me develop a criminal defense law practice. When I “switched sides” there were some cases I swore I would never take. Find out what made me change my mind, and why I take the criminal defense cases that other attorneys may refuse to take.
I’m criminal defense attorney Lance McCoy. In this blog post, I will tell you about my path to becoming a criminal defense lawyer. I will explain my philosophy about representing someone accused of child molestation or some other serious crime. And I will share why I take the tough criminal defense cases when others say no.
I haven’t always been a criminal defense attorney. Early in my career I worked as an assistant district attorney for the Cherokee Judicial Circuit. I prosecuted everything from speeding tickets to homicides in the Bartow and Gordon County Superior Courts. I resigned my position as an assistant district attorney in 2001. Initially, I started private practice with a local Cartersville law firm. However, I did not like having other people tell me what I should do to best represent those that trusted me to defend their freedom. In 2003, I joined forces with my wife and we formed the McCoy Law Firm, LLC. While I liked defense work, on a philosophical level, I swore I would never represent those accused of child molestation. As “they say,” never say never!
After a few years of private practice, one of my wife’s clients, and frankly, a person that I consider a friend of mine, was accused of molesting his daughter. I knew this person well, and I knew the charges against him had to be false. Knowing that this individual faced a lengthy prison sentence, and contrary to my “no child” molestation policy, I agreed to take his case.
In my opinion, child sex crime allegations are some of the toughest criminal defense cases an attorney can take as a lawyer. Frankly, the mere mention that someone is charged with molestation results in a drastic change in how the accused is received by family, friends, and employers. It can seem like the whole system, even the jury, assumes the person accused of the crime is guilty. In fact, it may surprise most to realize that even their own attorney may assume that they committed the violation simply because of the accusation.
Fortunately, in my friend’s case, after much preparation, and a trial before a fair jury, my client was found not guilty. As I pondered my experience, I thought about my role in preserving my friend’s life and freedom. While I called myself a criminal defense attorney, I was merely providing lip service to my chosen profession by automatically limiting the cases I would take based solely upon the violations alleged by the government. It is the individual accused of acts considered most distasteful by society that needs the strongest representation. These individuals need to have the rule of law applied fairly and the whole system needs to be forced to provide constitutional including the presumption of innocence and that the evidence proves the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Some attorneys take a case with the sole intent of having the client enter a plea of guilty to the charges. Resolving a case by a plea of guilt is appropriate in some cases. However, a plea should not be entered until the attorney has done a thorough investigation and consulted with their client about their priorities and options. I often have clients decided they wish to enter a plea of guilty so they can move past the tough situation they find themselves in, and make the best of a bad situation. However, I never, ever, take a case or meet with a client with the preconceived notion that a client is guilty or that a client should take a plea. It is crucial for those accused of tough criminal charges that will result in a lengthy prison sentence to have an advocate who has an open mind, believes in the constitution, and believes strongly that citizens need to be protected from the government. I take the tough case as a challenge. I put all of my legal experience, knowledge, and expertise behind preparing the strongest defenses possible.
I no longer have a policy of not handling child molestation or other tough criminal defense cases merely because someone has been accused of a certain violation. I fully appreciate that my duty as a criminal defense attorney is to take “difficult cases” and provide those accused of committing even the most distasteful of acts, an important part of the service I give to Georgia residents. I want to be there to help clients through the dark time leading up to trial. And when possible, I want to be the one standing beside them when the jury declares them “not guilty.”
After all, it should never be easy or common place for a government to incarcerate citizens without proof, due process, and the fair and unbiased application of law. The most fundamental principle in the American judicial system is, and should always remain, that an accused is innocent of any crime or act until the Government can prove to fair and impartial jurors that the accused has committed a crime. The system only works if defense attorneys are willing and able to make sure that all accused are provided the protections guaranteed by our constitution.
Lance McCoy of The McCoy Law Firm, LLC, is a criminal and DUI defense attorney with 25 years of experience. From his family-owned law firm in Cartersville, Georgia, he represents defendants facing misdemeanor and felony charges throughout northwest Georgia. If you have a court date scheduled, please contact Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia so we can begin working on your case right away.