Criminal Defendant's Survival Guide: Helping Your Lawyer Help You
The first question I’m often asked when I perform a consultation for a potential criminal client is, “what are my chances?” Well honestly your chance of success is 50/50 on any given day. Your chances of success are also dependent upon how you measure success. You definitely increase your odds of achieving a satisfactory outcome when you provide good information to help your attorney prepare your case. This is true regardless of whether you go to trial, take a plea, or push for a dismissal. To help your lawyer prepare for the best possible outcome you must provide him or her with the tools necessary to mount the best possible defense. Here is some information that will help you help your lawyer.
It’s beneficial to provide the following general client information to your attorney at the very first meeting. Do your best to keep the information up to date and relevant.
Physical and mailing address;
Occupants in defendant’s residence (who lives with you);
Email address and phone numbers (home, work, and cell);
Military experience and whether discharged honorably;
Marriage (divorced, separated, etc.);
Children and grandchildren, including names and ages;
Nature of support for the children and, if applicable, grandchildren;
Previous and present treatment for mental health issues;
Physical or mental disabilities;
Medication and medical care currently under;
Prior and present substance-addiction problems;
Prior criminal history;
List of Witnesses; and
I often ask my clients to provide me written statement of points they would like to highlight or believe to be relevant. This helps me to keep the things that my client feel are important on my mind when I’m working on their case file. Some attorneys may or may not require this.