What you need to know when meeting your defense attorney

The initial meeting between you and your attorney is actually the important first step to your criminal defense. And like so many important matters in life, its best to start things off on the right foot. To make this meeting as productive as possible, it is wise to come prepared and understand the process.

The best way to look at this initial consultation is to think of it as a free exchange of information. It starts with a lot of questions on the part of the attorney. The more honest, accurate and detailed you are in your answers, the better your attorney can build a case to defend you.

The attorney will ask for the details relating to the charges. These will include the following:

  • What did you say and to whom?
  • What did you see?
  • What did you do, or not do?
  • Who else was there?
  • What did the others there say and do?

The attorney will also want to hear about the officers involved in the arrest. Officers have to follow strict guidelines to insure that the arrest doesn’t violate the individual’s rights, and that doesn’t always happen. Your attorney will want to hear such details (to the best of your recollection) as:

  • Where and when were you were arrested?
  • What exactly transpired during the arrest?
  • What did these officials say?
  • What was the order that it happened in?

It is also important to bring all documentation pertaining to the arrest, including bail documentation, copies of the police report, paperwork related to a search and ideally the contact information for any possible witnesses. Bring any photos or video shot with your phone that relates to the case.

It’s also important to think ahead about any questions you may have for your lawyer. Generally speaking, you will want to know what their legal background is and how it will help with this case. An example of this would be to ask: Do you do a lot of drug possession cases? How do these cases often turn out? Other questions you may have for your lawyer include:

  • What is the typical legal process of this type of case?
  • How can I help my cause while I wait for this process to unfold?
  • What are your fees?
  • What kinds of payment terms do you accept?

Court-appointed public defenders are often overworked and underpaid. This can lead to results that reflect that reality. While paying for an attorney may seem at the time like an extravagance, hiring them and doing your due diligence in preparing for that initial meeting will often lead to the best possible outcome.

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