Why do defense attorneys defend people when they know 100% that they are guilty?

Defense attorneys defend people who can pay the huge retainer. Even if they know or think the person is guilty, and know they can't get them off the hook, they still get paid to try to get the person the best possible deal.
in US everyone is entitled to a lawyer and they are innocent until proven guilty and they still can appeal. People joke about lawyers but who do you call when you get in trouble (after bail bondsman)? Lawyers defend people in court and they don't ask you if you are innocent or whether you got caught walking down the highway with a bucket of whiskey with the seals broken. Well, maybe they laugh about it.
Mostly to make sure the defendant gets a fair trial. We all have the right to an attorney, no matter how guilty we seem to be.
Even guilty people have rights, which they have a right to be enforced (i.e, sentencing).
Because everyone has the right to a fair trial, But if the defendant tells the lawyer Yes I did it then they do have a right to choose not to defend or only get them the best deal that they can.
But it is suppose to be innoncent until proven guilty, even tho in alot of cases it is guilty until innoncent.

I gotta say I dont know cause I want to keep this question on my list so I can see what the answer is.. I always wondered this one too thanks...
You get a star =]
This is America ~~~ it is the law of the land ~~~ which is great for the innocent but difficult to understand in the guilty.

I don't know how the sleep at night when they KNOW they helped set a murder or child molester free.

I hope some lawyers will answer your question ~~~ it must be very difficult for them
Well, me, I'm a juvenile public defender, have been for 15 years, and plan to retire as one. So any of you who think I'm in it for the money had best rethink this whole thing. Most criminal defense attorneys don't make much. When one considers the financial condition of the average criminal defendant, the reason for this should be intuitively obvious. The high profile, wealthy criminal defendant is a rare bird indeed.

Much of the time, I sense that my client is guilty, but there are all kinds of reasons that many of them are legally guilty and some of these reasons can be mitigating. Also, most criminal defendants are neither murderers nor child molesters. But ok, you are an attorney and you have a client charged with murder. The state's evidence is mostly circumstantial and you know enough about your local police department's forensic skills to be dubious about the physical evidence. Or you have a person charged with child molestation, but there is no physical evidence nor medicals, and the state's whole case boils down to the bare accusation of a five year old girl who is going to be influenced by untold numbers of investigators, relatives, and therapists before she ever gets to court. What would you do? You'd set both cases for trial that's what. Why? Because deciding that the defendant is guilty is not the defense attorney's role. What kind of justice system would we have if a defense attorney could just say to his client, 'I suspect that you're guilty, so I'm not going to represent you?'

When the evidence is sufficient, I tell my client so and advise that the wisest course it to attempt some kind of justice by negotiating with the state. If the evidence is not sufficient, I tell my client that as well. Then the course of the case is up to him. Many times a client will admit guilt even though I have advised him that the evidence against him may not be sufficient. That is his right, and I have no quarrel with any defendant who does that.

Other times I might have a client who defends his innocence even in the face of damning evidence. Do I 'know' he's guilty? Not really. All I know is that the state's evidence is facially strong. If I think that it's strong enough and I also think that the stakes are high enough, I may try to talk such a defendant into bargaining with the state anyway as an exercise in damage control. Then there is the occasional individual who has strong evidence against him who nevertheless defends his innocence. My professional obligation to him is to take the case to trial and attempt a defense.

Now, how do I view that? Well, we all have our roles in the process, and if someone doesn't play their role adequately, then justice cannot be done. The idea behind the adversarial approach taken in american courts is that the best way to reach the truth is to allow two advocates to present their cases to an impartial referee, judge or jury. In the case of the defendant with strong evidence against him, I view my role as keeping the state honest, making sure that the defendant's rights are protected, and presenting any mitigating or contrary evidence that may exist. If everyone doesn't play their role properly, then the discovery of the truth is far less likely. If the state can secure a conviction in the face of a competent defence counsel and a vigorous defence, then a guilty verdict is probably justice. The down side to this is that occasionally, a guilty person goes free because of some evidentiary problem with the state's proof. This is a trade off that the framers of our legal system intended because the alternative is to force an accused person to 'prove' his innocence. The average defense attorney does what he does because he his dedicated to the notion of justice, but justice itself is seldom absolute. We just have to do the best we can with what we have. The majority of lawyers who can't hack life in those trenches often end up as civil litigators helping one group of people chase another over money. Those are the guys who really stand to become rich.

Finally, while there are attorneys for whom the dollar is everything, I'll only say that I don't know any of them in the criminal system. However, a few do exist, but I'll ask you. When a defense attorney gets a guilty defendant set free, whose fault is it? I submit that, of many possible answers to that question, the defense lawyer is not one of them.

Defending the client who is probably guilty isn't what keeps me up most nights though. What keeps me up is defending the client that I am convinced is innocent.
...with all due respect... watch closely.......'MONEY'.
You will never understand this if you don't read more. I recommend 'To Kill A Mockinbird'.
The right to effective counsel has been guaranteed to every criminal defendant by the US Constitution, and the US Supreme Court. In a criminal trial, the prosecution must prove EACH AND EVERY ELEMENT of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. It must prove its case ONLY by use of admissible evidence. It may NOT offer perjured testimony, or other unreliable evidence. It is the duty of the criminal defense attorney to protect the client from being convicted in violation of the client's constitutional rights.
Because an adversarial trial system provides the best chance of justice.
The law in the US is that everyone is innocent until proven or admit to guilt. It is also the law that everyone has the right to an attorney to represent their interest. Either a hired one they pay for or a court appointed one. The reason there is a lot of plea bargains is because the evidence is overwhelming and the defense attorney convinces the defendant that pleading guilty to avoid a trial in exchange for a lighter sentence is in their best interest.
Because they are representing their client, not deciding guilt. And guilt isn't just about whether you did something or not - it's whether what you did was really illegal, etc. If the person goes free, it's the system that's responsible, not the attorney.
From Wiki....

We use what is called an adversarial system in our trials. The assumption is that the truth is more likely to emerge from the open contest between the prosecution and the defense in presenting the evidence and opposing legal arguments with a judge acting as a neutral referee and as the arbiter of the law. In more serious cases, there is a jury to determine the facts.

The intention is that through a process of argument and counter-argument, examination-in-chief and cross-examination, each side will test the truthfulness, relevancy, and sufficiency of the opponent's evidence and arguments. To maintain fairness, there is a presumption of innocence, and the burden of proof lies on the prosecution.

Without defense attorneys, this approach wouldn't work.
There job is to enforce the system that our founding fathers laid down for us. Everyone has the right to a fair trial and it is a defense attorneys job to give it to them. You can not be partial just because you want their butt in jail. If they are truly guilty, they will go to jail.
Money plays into a big part of it as far as I'm concerned. I did ask my lawyer once, this same question. His answer was, ' I do not and will not defend a person I feel is guilty. Especially if its a child molester, rapist or murderer. I have that choice, most of the time and my conscience and morals will not let me do it. That's just me and my thoughts, some lawyers will defend anybody as long as the money is there.'
He was not a defense attorney and that may make a difference.
Sonny - ignore all of the legal and ethical rhetoric - it's the $$$$.

'If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit.'