There are three ways to increase your chances of a good outcome when facing criminal charges.
The first is to invoke and exercise your right to remain silent from the moment the police crash into your life.
The second is hiring a criminal defense lawyer rather than relying on a public defender.
The third is working with your criminal lawyer in a highly effective way. How do you do that? Here are five ways to ensure that your relationship with your criminal lawyer is strong and that you’re empowering your lawyer to do the best possible job for you.
#1) Tell Your Lawyer the Truth
Don’t lie to your lawyer. Answer direct questions directly, and don’t lie by omission.
If you tell them you are guilty, your lawyer cannot lie for you, but a lawyer will never ask, “Did you do it?” A lawyer will ask questions that can lead to exculpatory evidence instead.
Concealing information from your lawyer is a good way to ensure we get blindsided, and when we get blindsided, it’s tough to win.
#2) Provide Information Promptly
Time is of the essence when you’re dealing with a criminal case. The last thing you want to do is wait to give the lawyer the information they’ve asked for.
Your lawyer will generally get you a list. Try to get everything back to them within 24 hours, or have a friend or family member do it if you are stuck in jail.
Stay in touch with your lawyer and remain as responsive as possible. We’re trying to help you and need only the information you can provide.
#3) Help Your Lawyer Track Down Evidence and Witnesses
While it’s not always possible to know the exact timeline the prosecution is looking at when they are building their theory of the crime, in general, you tend to know the window of time police were looking at when they accuse you of the crime. Sometimes, your lawyer will get that information for you.
Direct your lawyer to anything that would help you prove you weren’t there. For example, if you have online receipts, bank statements showing you made a purchase, friends who can attest to your presence, potential camera locations that can show your activities or anything else you can think of, make sure you get it into your lawyer’s hands.
#4) Stay Off Social Media and Keep Your Mouth Shut
Social media posts can absolutely be used against you. And the temptation to defend yourself in the “court of public opinion” will be very strong. Unfortunately, the more you try to defend yourself to your friends and family, the less defensible your freedom and future become.
The same goes for talking to family members and friends in private. You can talk to your spouse if they were you on the day the alleged crime was committed. You can talk to your therapist or priest. Technically, you can talk to your physician, though your physician probably doesn’t want to hear it. Everyone else can be subpoenaed to testify against you. That puts them in a terrible position and strengthens the prosecution’s case.
#5) Be Realistic
If you know you’re guilty of a crime, you might not want to shoot for acquittal. If you don’t have much budget, you probably can’t afford to have your lawyer bring in dozens of expert witnesses while hiring a PI to launch a thorough investigation of who the real culprit might be.
Sometimes, taking a plea deal is the best you can hope for, and sometimes, negotiating a diversion program is a better idea than taking your case all the way to trial. Sometimes, even when you’re innocent, you’re better off negotiating a deal for time served than you are trying to fight to be seen as innocent. It’s coercive, and it isn’t fair, but it is realistic.
If your lawyer tells you something is or is not realistic, listen to them and work with them.
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