One of the most important decisions you will make when charged with a criminal offense is whether or not to take your case to trial. If you decide to allow a judge or jury to decide your fate, it is imperative to have an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney on your side. Your attorney can explain the steps criminal lawyers take when preparing for trial. You will likely find that there is much more work involved than you realized, making it important to start preparing early.
- Talking with the client
The first step in every case is a discussion between the client and attorney. When you hire an attorney, you will have a meeting where you discuss terms and you let the attorney know what happened that led to you needing an attorney. It’s natural to not want to share secrets with a stranger, but keep in mind that if you keep information from your attorney that is needed for your defense, it could work against you. You might even lose your case if your attorney doesn’t have critical information needed for your defense.
The Prosecutor will have a file on your case with information he/she intends to use against you at trial. Your attorney is allowed to ask to see everything the Prosecutor has in the case. One of the first things a good criminal lawyer always does is file a motion for discovery on the case. The Prosecutor will have to give you the list of witnesses, any statements taken that he/she intends to use at trial, and any physical evidence that has been collected. There might be pictures, video, ballistics evidence, or DNA. You need to know everything that will be used against you to prepare for trial. If the Prosecutor does not disclose everything to you, he/she can be sanctioned. If the Prosecutor has evidence that he/she wants to use that has not been disclosed, your criminal lawyer can object and the Prosecutor will not be allowed to use that evidence during the trial.
- Reviewing police reports
Once your attorney has the file from the Prosecutor, he/she will read it through and provide a copy to you. It is important to read the information carefully and let your attorney know if you have any questions or suggestions for further investigation. The most important part of the State’s case is usually the police report that led to the arrest. The officer’s statement shows the steps leading up to your arrest. The original statement could be the key to what really happened.
Once you have a better idea what the case is against you, it may be necessary to do some investigating. For instance, if the State is making a claim about physical evidence, your attorney might decide that hiring your own expert is a good idea. There might be other witnesses you need to track down who can tell a different story.
- Talking to defense witnesses
You may have people who will be willing to testify on your behalf. You and your attorney need to talk to them and find out what they can add to your case. You may have many questions. What did they see? Were they in a good position to see it? Your attorney need to let the court know that these people could be appearing in court for you, in which case the Prosecutor will get a chance to learn who they are and what their part was.
- Trial depositions
Depositions can be taken by either side. If the State wants to use a witness against you’re your attorney will probably schedule a deposition so you can find out what they intend to say against you. The statements made during depositions can be used to develop a strategy for defense. They can also be used during the trial itself to check the testimony of witnesses.
- Preparing you for trial
Even though you have already gone through all these other steps with your attorney, your attorney will need to help you prepare for trial too. Being a defendant at a trial is challenging and stressful. In a criminal trial, one of the most important decisions you will have to make is whether or not to testify. If you testify, the Prosecutor will be allowed to ask you questions regarding your testimony. Depending on what you say, the Prosecutor could bring up other things to make you look bad. The jury is not allowed to judge you on whether or not you take the stand. You need to have a very thoughtful discussion with your criminal lawyer about this issue. You should always look presentable during your trial. Even if you are in custody, the State will be required to allow you to wear regular clothes and appear before the jury unshackled. Your attorney will be present at the same table with you throughout the trial.
How Do Criminal Lawyers Help?
If you are concerned about outstanding criminal charges against you that you believe may go to trial, consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner you start preparing, the better.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in the State of Nebraska it is certainly in your best interest to consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense lawyer right away to discuss what defenses might be available to you. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.