The most important step you can take after being arrested and charged with a criminal offense is to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you have never had need of a criminal attorney before, however, this can seem a daunting task. Meeting face to face with a criminal defense attorney for the first time can likewise be a bit intimidating. If this is your first encounter with the criminal justice system you likely don’t know what to expect from your meeting nor what you should ask of your attorney. Every attorney-client relationship is unique; however, it may help to know what to expect out of talking to your criminal lawyer for the first time as well as how best to prepare for that meeting.
Preparing for Your Meeting
Taking the time to prepare for your meeting with your criminal defense lawyer will be time well spent. Particularly if this is your first brush with the criminal justice system, you likely may many questions. Your attorney may answer some of those in the natural course of conversation; however, your attorney will probably be more focused on the substance of your case, not broader questions about the process and procedures unless you steer the conversation in that direction. The best way to ensure that the most important of your questions are answered is to write them down ahead of time so you don’t forget to ask them. Do not be hesitant to ask questions. The criminal justice system is a complex and ever-changing system that can be difficult to navigate. Once your attorney realizes that you are a novice, he/she should be happy to answer questions and provide you with a general overview of what to expect going forward.
The Attorney-Client Relationship
Understanding the nature of the attorney-client relationship is of particular importance when the attorney represents you in a criminal prosecution. The relationship you have with your criminal lawyer is bound by the ethical dictates of confidentiality. In practical terms, this means that your criminal defense attorney cannot divulge anything you tell him/her except under very narrow circumstances, such as if you tell your attorney you plan to commit a future crime that will result in death or serious bodily injury. The confidential nature of your relationship is crucial to your lawyer’s ability to defend you as it may be necessary to discuss the crime itself and your part in it (if any). Note, however, the use of the term “may be” necessary. Sometimes, what your attorney does not ask you is as important as what your attorney does ask you.
Follow Your Lawyer’s Lead
While asking general questions about the criminal justice system is encouraged, when it comes to the specific facts of your case it is best to let your criminal lawyer take the lead. If your lawyer asks you a question it is crucial that you answer the question honestly, always keeping in mind the confidential nature of the attorney-client relationship. Conversely, if your attorney appears to be avoiding a question, do not offer an answer. Specifically, you may start to wonder why your attorney has yet to ask you if you committed the crime with which the State has charged you. There is likely a very good reason for this. Your attorney’s job is to protect your rights and prepare a defense that will ensure you are not convicted unless the State can overcome its burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Aside from the fact that your guilt or innocence is, to some extent, irrelevant to your attorney, there is another important reason why he/she won’t directly ask certain questions. A criminal defense attorney cannot knowingly suborn perjury, meaning that if you admit your guilt outright to your lawyer, he/she cannot then put you on the stand and allow you to testify that you are not guilty. For this reason, there are frequently questions your criminal lawyer will avoid asking you. Therefore, do not answer questions that have not been asked.
Contact a Nebraska Criminal Lawyer at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with a crime in the State of Nebraska, consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.