According to the Vera Institute of Justice, over 10 million Americans are arrested yearly. While not all of these individuals will face criminal charges, many of them will have to answer in court for some crime. If you are one of these millions of Americans, you have likely decided to seek legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Once you have chosen the right lawyer to represent you, you will meet with this attorney to review your charges and develop your defense strategy. To make the most of this meeting — and any that follow it — it is important to come prepared.
Preparing for Your Meeting With Your Defense Lawyer
Your attorney will likely prepare before meeting you by reviewing any relevant information they currently have about your case. When you prepare for the meeting as well, you can allow more time for strategizing and developing a path forward.
To prepare for a meeting with your criminal defense attorney, make sure to take these steps:
1. Bring All Paperwork You Received
Depending on your charges and the investigation police did before your arrest, you may have a substantial number of documents. This can include a search warrant and return, a document listing your charges, bond agreements, and written journal entries from your first appearances in court.
Your attorney may not have seen all of these documents yet. While your lawyer has the ability to obtain copies of investigative reports and court documents related to your case, this can take some time.
When you bring any paperwork you already have, your attorney can spend more time managing your case and less time tracking down files.
2. Be Prepared to Recount Your Story
Even if your lawyer has access to the officer’s report or affidavit surrounding your arrest, your attorney will want to hear the facts of your story from you. Officers’ narratives and reports may omit details that can be crucial to a successful defense strategy. You may be the only witness to your arrest who knows these crucial facts.
As a result, your attorney may take a substantial portion of your time together by walking through the details of your case. You can help yourself and your lawyer by writing down important case details so you do not forget to mention them. For example, consider writing down:
- The date, time, and location of your arrest
- Anything that officers said to you during the incident
- Any statements you made to police and the circumstances of those statements
- Witnesses who may have information about your charges
In addition to your written notes, bring any tangible evidence you believe is relevant to your case. This might include letters, e-mails, photographs, or other similar evidence you possess.
3. Think About Your Goals and Objectives
Your attorney will need to know your desired outcome for your case. While most, if not all, criminal defendants want their charges dismissed or to receive a not-guilty verdict, this may not always be possible. Moreover, there may be other ways to achieve your goals without the risk of taking your case to trial.
It’s important to share your thoughts with your attorney, which can affect how they tailor your case strategy. Make sure to consider all potential consequences of your case, not just the potential jail sentence. A criminal conviction can affect professional licenses like a teacher’s license, your employment, and your professional or personal reputation.
If any of these issues concern you, let your attorney know.
4. Have Your Questions Ready
Your meeting with your attorney should not be a one-sided discussion in which your attorney asks all the questions. You can and should ask any questions you may have about your case, your defense, or the next steps for you and your attorney.
There is no such thing as a trivial question when it comes to your criminal case, so do not hesitate to ask your lawyer questions such as:
- Do I have a strong defense?
- What are the possible outcomes?
- What information might be helpful to my defense?
- What can I do to help you and help my case?
Asking questions and receiving answers not only gives you more information with which to make decisions about your case, but it can also increase your confidence in your attorney as they can demonstrate their understanding of your situation.
Speak to Heartland Law Office, PC About Your Case Today
If you are charged with a crime in North Dakota, you do not have to face your charges alone. The compassionate and experienced team of Heartland Law Office, PC can help you pursue the best possible resolution to your criminal case.
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