A close family member was arrested and charged with a serious felony. At the time of their arrest, they were diagnosed with serious mental illness and went to a cell in the forensic section of the state mental hospital. When their case came up they were transferred to a mental health section of the county jail. Although I was the victim and hoped to get treatment for my relative, the state automatically pressed criminal charges under the state's domestic violence laws.
Initially, my relative was defended by a public defender, which was a relief given the cost of hiring a defense attorney. But the public defender was so overworked and overloaded with cases I am surprised he could remember my relative's name. Neither my relative nor anyone else in the family could find out much about how the case was going because the public defender spent so much time in court defending a great pile of case-after-case. Little by little I learned that the prosecution's case was relatively strong. The prosecution piled on every possible charge the prosecutor could imagine, and remained adamant in pressing for maximum, non-concurrent sentences for all charges -- up to 30 years in prison. The public defender conducted negotiations with the prosecutor and was slowly working toward a deal. All my relative had to do was plead-out and they could get off 'light' -- with only eight years in state prison. This seems to be the way law works these days. Forget all about all the lawyer and cop shows you might have seen on tv or in the movies. Very few defendants risk going to trial in our legal system which has become so heavily weighted in favor of the prosecution.
I couldn't fault the efforts of the public defender given his situation but I didn't need to learn any more. I started hunting for a private attorney to defend my relative. Finding a good criminal defense attorney is not as easy as I expected. There are many attorneys who practice criminal defense -- for shoplifting or DUI charges -- but relatively few who will practice and are experienced at defending in serious felony cases. My search was further complicated by my relative's mental illness and the state's insistence on treating their case as a criminal case. I feel very fortunate to have found Ryan Gilbert, LLC. He was both experienced with handling criminal cases like my relative's and knowledgeable in the special case law involved in what is called a Krol case -- named for the defendant whose defense case pioneered this area of criminal law. In addition, Ryan Gilbert knew what expert witness to retain to best forward my relative's defense. I believe the testimony of this expert witness together with Ryan Gilbert's patience and expertise was crucial in determining the outcome of this case.
There were several difficult personalities Ryan Gilbert had to deal with in handling my relative's case. I remain impressed by his ability to understand and skillfully maneuver through the often delicate relations with these difficult people. Unlike the public defender, it was easy to reach Ryan Gilbert and he was forthcoming and plain spoken about how the case was progressing. Ryan met with state prosecutors in court and in side negotiations for over a year. At the end of this ordeal the state finally recognized that my relative suffered from mental illness and the state's interests would be best served if this relative were placed into the state mental health system as a Krol patient.
Mounting a criminal defense requires considerable time and energy in addition to resources like the expert witness Ryan Gilbert obtained to further this case. Hard work, and great skill and expertise deserve adequate compensation. The defense of my relative was neither free nor exorbitant, and worth more than every penny it cost. How much would you value each year in the life of someone you love?