By far the best thing you can do to assist your attorney is to contact him or her as soon as you feel there is a problem, or as soon as you have been charged with a crime. There are many ways an attorney can head off trouble before it starts. This may be to prevent you from making an incriminating statement to the police or give evidence against yourself. It may be to assist you with determining if it is in your best interest to cooperate with the police and to arrange that if you do, the police and the Commonwealth’s Attorney will honor any agreement that you enter into. There are many other advantages that may present themselves by contacting an attorney early that are specific to your situation. Even if none of these situations apply to your case, the sooner you contact an attorney the more time that he or she has to prepare a defense. If you contact an attorney the day before court it leaves very little opportunity to prepare and do the necessary research that may be needed to resolve legal issues in your favor.
The second thing that you must do to assist your attorney is to open a dialog with your attorney and tell him or her everything that is going on with your case. Your attorney is going to evaluate your situation and make recommendations about how the case should be handled. If your attorney does not have a complete and true understanding of the facts and circumstances you cannot expect that the advice you get will be the proper course of action. The last place an attorney wants to find out that the facts of your case are not as you have represented to him or her is in court. By that time the damage is usually done and the only person who will suffer because of it is you.
Third, your attorney may advise you to do certain things or take certain actions that will improve your chance to be successful or to mitigate damage in your case. It is your responsibility to cooperate in supplying documents such as driving record, bank statements, lists of witnesses with their contact information and so on. Your attorney may also advise you to seek counseling or enter a program such as ASAP, driver improvement school, anger management or mental health treatment or one of many others. If restitution is an issue you may be advised if at all possible to start making restitution payments. Your attorney is not asking you to do these things arbitrarily. Your attorney’s experience has provided him or her with the knowledge that these things can help your situation in the right circumstances.
Fourth, maintain contact with your attorney and make sure that your attorney has current contact information. Some cases may continue for several months or longer. During that time many clients move or change phone numbers. In the course of a criminal case many issues arise that may require you to have repeated consultations with your attorney before court. If your attorney contacts you, return his or her calls or letters promptly.
Also, if you have questions or concerns, you need to voice these concerns with your attorney. The relationship with your attorney requires open and honest communications. If you do not let your attorney know that you have concerns he or she cannot address them. If you are not sure that your attorney is going to handle a case the way you want, or meet the goals that you expect, you need to discuss this. Your attorney should not be offended by your questions and should welcome the opportunity to explain his or her position and obtain your input.
Finally, you must have realistic expectations about your case. Not every case will result in a finding of not guilty. If you are in a situation where there is overwhelming evidence of your guilt your attorney will certainly try to put you in the best position possible to get you through the criminal justice system with the most favorable consequences possible, but, if you expect to be found not guilty in these circumstances you will not be satisfied with your attorney, or any attorney for that matter. The situation will be frustrating for you and your attorney.
At the Law Office of Michael S Davis, we would be happy to discuss your situation at no cost and help you determine your best course of action.