Interviewer: What have you seen people do once their case is over to get back on their feet and return to normal life as quickly as possible?
Paul Tafelski: Usually, the people who do the best are the people who find somebody who can help them, rely on that person’s advice, and just follow it. Many times it is common sense, it’s logical, try to get the best result you can get from your case, and then hurry up and satisfy all the sentencing requirements. If they order you not to drink, then don’t drink. In the meantime pursue some other goal or use your time to get a second job, go to school, or get in shape. Pretty soon the time will pass and you’ll be out of the system and be back to a normal life. Hopefully, you learned a lesson that will serve you well in the future.
Getting the Jury to say “Not guilty”: Successfully Defending a Client in Recent Criminal Trial
Interviewer: Could you share a case of one of your favorite victories in defending a criminal case or maybe one of your craziest cases in regard to a criminal defense?
Paul Tafelski: Just in the past week, I finished up a jury trial on a possession of heroin case. My client was the passenger in a car and the driver had bought some heroin from a drug dealer and came back to the car with it. The police saw the whole transaction and they came upon the car. They claim that they saw the driver and my client both holding a needle but only the driver’s needle had any drugs in it.
They claimed that the client threw the stuff down on the floor and he denied any use or intention with the drugs. It was an issue and he sat in jail for several months waiting for his day to have a trial. We finally had a trial, it took about three days, and the jury found him not guilty. There was a lot of evidence that came out in just little bits and pieces that worked in his favor and to his advantage. We convinced the jury that he was not guilty. It was a good case for just proving that the jury system works and that people will give defendants the benefit of the doubt.
In that case, my client was not a wealthy guy. He didn’t have a lot of people supporting him and he was up against a very polished and skilled police officer. The jury was still able to sort through things and in my opinion made the right decision on that case. It wasn’t weird or crazy but it was just a good case to show that the system can work when given a chance.