How to Prepare for Meeting with Your Criminal Defense Attorney for the First Time
Facing a criminal charge is an extremely stressful situation for anyone, so it goes without saying that meeting with a criminal defense attorney for the first time is not a stress-free experience either.
Before meeting with a criminal defense attorney for the first time, it can help to prepare for the meeting, making the process easier for the potential client as well as the attorney.
The following tips can be helpful in preparing for this first consultation.
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Write Down Details of What Happened
The precise events of what led up to the crime can seem like a blur, but it is of extreme importance that the potential client write an accurate account of what led to the offense in question while using assistance, like a calendar, calculator, or map if relevant. Even small details are important in preparing a defense, and all of this information will be needed by the attorney.
Create this document as a letter to the attorney so that the attorney-client privilege against self-incrimination applies. Do not show this document to any but an attorney.
Prepare an itemized description of what happened that led to the offense, as well as what happened after the arrest.
If the potential client has concerns that he or she made statements during police questioning that could be used against him or her later, make sure the attorney is aware of these statements before they come up later.
Again, if any concern exists around writing this information down, be assured that disclosing this information is protected since the meeting is considered the start of an attorney-client communication and is thus protected and confidential.
Honesty Is Key
The last thing a criminal defense attorney wants is to be surprised at trial by a fact that was never disclosed to him or her by the client. As stated previously, even if a detail seems small, it could be extremely important later.
This honesty includes any facts about the client’s past or history with the party or parties involved that could be viewed unfavorably. An attorney can only defend a client well if they know more than the prosecution. The attorney cannot disclose any of this information because of the obligation for confidentiality.
If the attorney has this information in advance, he or she can prepare to mitigate bad information later if it is brought up during trial or in negotiations.
Bring Copies of All Paperwork Received
The attorney will want copies of any and all documents that the potential client has received in the case.
This information includes any contact information or business cards from police officers or detectives. If the client has search warrants or a list of any items seized during a search, as well as police reports, they should bring this information to the initial consultation.
Have all digital evidence flagged on your phone or computer so that you can email the information to the attorney easily so that she may preserve it for trial. There are some computer programs that can help you preserve this information.
Bring the names, dates of birth, phone numbers, and addresses of any potential witnesses for the attorney to investigate.
The more information the client can bring is better in that it saves the attorney from having to perform costly investigation to get this information later. Allow the attorney and her staff to differentiate between what is or is not needed.
Write Down All Questions
Unless someone is experienced in criminal law, the odds are the potential client will have questions about his or her case and what to expect. Do not assume that these questions will be remembered during the appointment but write them all down in advance.
No question is too ridiculous to ask so do not be hesitant to ask the attorney any and all questions that are written. It is key that the client has all of his or her questions properly answered before choosing to retain the attorney.
Some of these questions can include the following:
- What should I expect at the next court date?
- What is the process like? (Pretrial, negotiations, trial, etc.)
- Should I be worried about jail time?
- How can I reduce my possible sentence?
- What is the best way for me to keep up to date on my case?
It is also important to ask information about the attorney and the firm.
Keep in mind that the client is not only telling the attorney about the case, but he or she is also interviewing the attorney to see if he or she is a good fit with the client. Ask about the attorney’s experience, including how many trials he or she has done, how many of these cases actually go to trial or settle outside of court, and how many years the attorney has practiced law. Ask the attorney to explain what their representation includes and how they feel that they can help that client specifically or how they will make choices together in the future.
Also, ask about the office support staff in the event the client will be communicating frequently with paralegals or other support staff instead of the attorney.
In addition, when it comes to anything legal, the topic of money always is a concern. Ask information from the beginning as to how the attorney charges for criminal cases.
Does the attorney require a retainer? What is his or her hourly rate, as well as the hourly rate of support staff? Does the attorney accept payment plans? What potential costs might be associated with their representation? Get all of this information before hiring the attorney so that no surprises come up later.
Contact The Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC Today!
If you need a criminal defense lawyer, act fast and call 215-515-3360. We can help 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, including holidays.