It’s frightening to be charged with a criminal offense, especially for first time offenders. Most people just aren’t used to dealing with the police, and they have even less experience with the often confusing and convoluted Colorado criminal justice system.
On top of stress of your impending case, the process of finding, meeting, and learning how to work with a criminal defense attorney can be confusing to the inexperienced.
Preparing to meet your attorney for the first time is an important step of the process. Before you hire a criminal lawyer for your case, you should meet with potential attorneys to see if they are the right fit for you. Assembling relevant information, documents, and any questions you might have prior to your meeting will make this process much easier. Even if you are considering utilizing your right to a public defender, a little preparation beforehand can help your attorney outline what you can expect, as well as saving your lawyer time in assembling your criminal defense plan.
Remember, your prospective criminal defense attorney is also deciding whether or not to take you on as a client. The best way to make a good impression is to seem prepared and ready to do your part to help your case.
Before The First Meeting
Your attorney will need to be in touch with you, so drawing up a sheet of contact information will be helpful for filing purposes. He or she may also ask you about your personal and professional background, since this is sometimes a crucial element of a defense strategy. Write down any information about yourself that might have some bearing on your case and make it available to your attorney.
It’s also very important to remember to bring all the documents provided by the police or courts detailing your charges and your next court appearance. Other important documents might include bail papers or papers left by the police during a property search. If you can obtain a copy of your police report, this will help your attorney a great deal.
You should also bring any other useful items like videotapes, pictures, or documents that may be evidence. For example, if you are facing tax fraud allegations, you might want to obtain copies of your tax records.
Sometimes criminal defense lawyers will send you a questionnaire in advance, in order to facilitate the process. If this is the case with your attorney, make sure to return the survey document before your first meeting. Additionally, if the attorney requested some of your relevant documents to be included with your questionnaire, send these along as well.
While some criminal defense attorneys will want to know your version of events first, others may want to hear the police department’s case against you, and then your version. If there are potential witnesses you believe would help your case, you should bring along their contact information. For example, if you are charged with assault, it may be useful to provide the names and contact information of the people present at the time of the altercation.
Questions to Ask Your Attorney
Remember, you are the “customer” in this relationship, so a good criminal lawyer should be happy to answer all your questions—don’t shy away from frank or seemingly foolish questions. You also want to get along with your attorney, since you will be working together often during an emotionally draining time.
Here are some sample questions you might ask an attorney when meeting them for the first time. Remember, your attorney is cannot tell the future, but often will be able to cite past examples and experiences in order to give you some general idea about what to expect in your case.
- What information would your attorney need to further evaluate your case?
- What is your attorney’s experience with this particular charge, or other similar offenses?
- What were some of the outcomes of those similar cases? How long will the process take? How long until the entire matter will be resolved?
- What can you do to help your case? How can you avoid damaging your case?
- What are your current options? What are the outcomes of each option?
- What is your best case scenario? Worst case?
- What approach do you anticipate using for my defense?
- What percent of your attorney’s legal practice is in an area related to your situation?
- Does your lawyer tend to accept plea bargains or take the case to trial? (Either extreme can be problematic. It’s best to find a lawyer who doesn’t favor one tactic significantly over the other. Some cases are best plea bargained, while others do better in trial.)
- How does your prospective attorney charge for his or her services?
- Does the attorney accept payment agreements for any services extending beyond your representation?
- Will he or she be handling your case personally, or are others in the firm likely to be involved? If so, can you meet them?
If you have been charged with a crime in the Denver area, you need a strong defense attorney who works hard to ensure optimal results for your specific case. Get started on building your defense today by requesting a free consultation.