You’ve just been charged with a crime, but have no idea what to expect. How does the criminal justice system work? What are you supposed to do? And who should you talk to? It’s understandable to feel intimidated at this time. But, fortunately, there are steps you can take right now to improve your situation.
Anyone who is facing criminal prosecution should work with a criminal defense attorney to explore their options. A skilled lawyer will help you understand your charges, let you know what to expect if you’re convicted, and check for valid defenses to the crime. We’ll cover initial consultation basics, what to bring to the meeting, how to prepare, and other considerations.
Your initial consultation with a criminal defense attorney is your chance to find out whether you want to work with them. Keep in mind that taking advantage of a free consultation doesn’t obligate you to hire the lawyer. When you first meet them, ask the attorney some questions to determine how they would construct your defense.
1 Schedule the Meeting
The first step you can take in finding the right defense attorney is contacting some potential candidates. When you get in touch with us, we’ll schedule a time to discuss your case and answer your questions. Most of the time, we’ll be able to speak with you very soon after you first contact us.
2 Bring Your Papers
Depending on the situation, you might have received papers from the court or police regarding your case. Relevant documentation could include a signed bail receipt, a request to appear in court, or a ticket. If you’re dealing with a stalking charge, you may have papers detailing a protective order. If you were accused of drug possession, but actually have a valid prescription for the substance, you can bring that with you to the consultation.
If your case involved a police or accident report, that’s also valid information that it’s best to keep on hand at your first meeting. No matter what documentation you have related to your case, it’s important to bring it with you to the consultation with a criminal defense attorney. If you have a court date, it’s especially important to show the paper your lawyer. Until you officially hire them, they can’t obtain this information. So, it’s up to you to keep them informed.
3 Take Notes on Your Version of Events
A good way to make sure you’re prepared for your consultation is to record details about your side of the story. When you put things in order this way, it will help you remember the events that led to the incident, as well as what happened after. When you begin writing, you’ll likely remember details that would have been otherwise lost. Having notes on your side of the story also helps your lawyer to verify the facts and prepare the strongest defense possible for you.
When it comes to criminal law, there are many different reasons why you may wish to speak with an attorney. So, what you talk about at your initial consultation depends on the legal issue at hand. However, most consultations include discussion of the attorney’s fees. Criminal defense lawyers tend to charge either an hourly rate or flat fee. Make sure the costs of their services fit with your budget.
Your initial consultation will also likely include discussion of the legal facts and claims at hand. It’s imperative that you’re as honest as possible about your case. Lying about the circumstances involved won’t serve you well. Plus, your attorney isn’t here to judge you; they’re on your side. But they can only help you if you give them an accurate depiction of events.
You might want to ask the lawyer any number of questions to take full advantage of your consultation. Here are some examples:
Keep in mind that an initial consultation doesn’t mean the lawyer has taken your case or that they’re officially representing you. Before you work together, you’ll generally both sign a representation agreement.
Once your initial consultation is complete, you’ll decide whether you’d like to retain the attorney’s services. It’s alright to say no or to take more time to think about it. It’s important that you feel comfortable with your criminal defense attorney. If your first consultation goes well and the attorney has a fee structure that works with you, they can get started on the case soon after you speak.
Working with a legal professional can mean you serve only a few years in jail rather than a much longer sentence. And, while you’ll have to make an investment to hire one initially, you could save money in the long run by having your charges reduced. Attorneys have experience with a variety of crimes and stay up to date on the latest laws. So, having one on your side is an invaluable asset at this time.
Our consultations are free and give you a chance to decide whether you want to retain our services or not. Remember, attending an initial consultation doesn’t obligate you to hire us. But it’s important that you take action sooner than later if you want a good shot at having your charges reduced. If you’re facing legal the criminal justice system, contact one of our experienced professionals today to see how we can assist you.