What to Prepare When Meeting a Criminal Defense Attorney
When you meet with your defense attorney for the first time, the meeting is essentially the launch of your defense. So it is important to make it a strong start, inspiring confidence, which may alleviate much of your stress. Here are some tips to help you prepare.
Initial meeting — understanding the lawyer’s role
To represent you effectively, your lawyer must function fully and completely as your advocate. The only way to do that is to completely understand your situation and who you are. The lawyer will need to learn much about you and what you know about the circumstances related to your charges.
Expect to be asked many factual questions about yourself — full name, contact information, education, employment record, family, criminal record, etc.
Expect questions that seek to reveal your character. This helps inform a criminal lawyer about how to represent you and provides an idea of how you may respond if you testify.
Questions your lawyer may have for you
Your criminal defense lawyer may probe for information related to the events leading up to your criminal charges, such as:
- What you saw, heard, and did or did not do
- What you said and to whom
- Who else was involved
- What others said or did
Your attorney may have questions about the police officers involved in your arrest, such as:
- Where were you when they arrested you?
- How were you approached by the arresting officers?
- What did the officers say?
- What did they do leading up to, during, and after your arrest?
- Precisely how and when did they do each thing that they did?
The questioning may seem tedious, but your cooperation is important, as the information gleaned may identify pertinent information, leads, alibis, witnesses, and more.
Other information your lawyer may need
Other items and information your lawyer may want from you include:
- Any documentation you have pertaining to the arrest
- Your bail documentation
- Copies of the police report or, if property was searched, any paperwork related to the search
- Information regarding possible witnesses, including contact information
Preparing for your initial meeting
If you have documents or evidence like videotape, phone messages and photographs that may be important, bring those with you.
If there is anything not clear to you regarding the judicial process, your options, or what to expect, write down these questions and bring them to the meeting.
Questions you may have for your lawyer
Here are common questions defendants ask their defense lawyers:
- What kind of cases have you done in the past that are similar?
- How did those cases turn out?
- What can I do to help my case?
- What things should I do to avoid damaging my case?
- How long should I expect each aspect of the case to take place?
- What problems do you foresee related to this case?
- What is the best-case scenario? Worst-case scenario?
- What approach do you plan to take in my defense?
- How involved are you in each stage of the case — arraignment, filing of motions, motions hearing, disposition conference, and trial?
- If others from the firm are likely to be involved, can I meet them?
- What are your fees, and how do you charge for your services?
- What payment terms do you accept?