I personally find that criminal defense work, providing guidance and counsel to those accused of crimes and defending those individuals at trial, is some of the most meaningful and rewarding work that I do. I tend to think of a triable, winnable criminal defense case falling into one of five general categories:
One would be the innocent person wrongfully accused.
This is a situation where the individual simply had nothing to do with the crime the State has alleged they committed.
A related situation is the overcharged case. This is a scenario where an individual might have committed some typically very minor wrong, but it is nevertheless overcharged. In this pattern, the State seeks to hold a defendant criminally responsible for serious charges when, the offense that might have been actually committed is actually a very minor -sometimes traffic or civil- infraction.
A third recurring situation, is where one in which an individual may well have done what the State contends that they did, and that conduct constitutes some manner of offense, but the individual is just simply not responsible for their conduct. This can be due to age, or infirmity, or mental health issues, and involves an accused who perhaps does not understand the consequences of their actions.
There are those defendants in criminal matters that again may have done what the State alleges that they did- but they have a reason.
And if it's a good reason, the law will recognize that defense.
Perhaps the most common is the concept of self-defense in an assault case.
Finally, there are those individuals who are simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. The law is clear mere proximity to a criminal act does not make one responsible for that. The State frequently charges everyone in a house or a car, for example, where contraband like a controlled dangerous substance is found.