-- Be Aware and Be Prepared --

The Government's Evidence and Yours

Before deciding to go to trial or not, you should know what evidence the prosecutor will present against you, how the jury will perceive it, and how your attorney will defend against it.


You should also know what positive, credible evidence your attorney will present to the jury in your defense to combat the Government's evidence.


If there is no credible evidence to challenge the Government's evidence or to present in your behalf, your attorney should fully explain to you why there is not.


Again, fully discuss all aspects of your case with your attorney holding nothing back.  Many times, something a client thinks unimportant and doesn't share with his attorney, turns out to be the very thing that could make a difference in the outcome of the case.

You should participate in the defense of your case, but only with your attorney

If arrested - meaning the police have you detained and will not let you leave (you should ask to leave if there is any doubt) - and the police try to ask you questions, you should immediately request an attorney.


Often, the police try to intimidate someone they arrest into making a "statement." If the citizen doesn't, the police then tell them they are not being "cooperative," as if they are going to be in "big trouble" for not speaking with them.  Next, they will try to convince the person that they should tell their side of the story, to prove that the police should not arrest them.  Another trick the police use to get a statement, is they try to make persons in their custody feel afraid and guilty about "failing to cooperate," telling them that either the judge or the process will go "harder" on them later.


However, you have a 5th Amendment Constitutional right not to make any statements to the police when you are in custody, and to remain silent if you chose to do so.  Believe me, you cannot talk your way out of an arrest once the police have made up their minds, and they often make their minds up well before they talk to the person they wind up arresting.  In short, the police are just trying to get a statement out of you to use against you later.


So it is of utmost importance to you, that whether you are questioned, arrested, in custody, in jail or released,


THAT YOU DO NOT DISCUSS YOUR CASE WITH ANYONE BESIDES YOUR ATTORNEY !


If you have been arrested and taken to jail --  REMEMBER THIS -- if you call your family or friends to make bond or for any other reason, do not discuss your case over the phone in any way whatsoever, because 


ALL JAIL TELEPHONE CALLS ARE RECORDED,


and anything you say over the telephone, CAN AND WILL be used against you.


Finally, when you meet with your attorney, do not withhold any fact from your attorney because you think he won't like you, will think less of you, will not defend you, or that it will be "bad" for your defense if somebody finds out.  Usually, somebody out there already knows whatever it is you are trying to hide, and if it really is bad for you, it usually will come out at the worst possible time: during your trial.


So don't be tempted to withhold information about your case from your attorney. He can handle it, and he needs to know about whatever it is you are hiding, in order to fully prepare your case.

If you try your case, your attorney should prepare you to testify in your own behalf

There are some cases where it is better that the defendant does not testify in her own behalf, for reasons that the attorney will discuss with the client.


Not surprisingly, however, most jurors say that they want to hear from the defendant, and her version of "the story."


Also not surprisingly, when defendants chose to testify but lie, the jury will almost always figure it out. Moreover, if a client makes up a story that is inconsistent with what she already told her attorney - because she thinks it will help her case better than what she said before - her attorney has an ethical obligation to not participate in committing a fraud on the court, by allowing his client to testify falsely.


So the moral is: don't lie.


And don't even tell little lies.  Many a person on trial has been convicted for an offense they did not commit, because instead of telling the truth, they thought they were smarter than everybody else in the room, and that no one would know if they lied about something.  Many times, what they lied about in their testimony was just some trivial side matter remotely connected to their case.


Believe me, the prosecutor will smugly tell the jury that if you lied about a small thing, you must be lying about the big stuff, and that the jury should not trust liars about anything . . . 

and juries will believe the prosecutor.


In short, if you chose to testify, don't convict yourself by lying about anything.


So whether you chose to testify or not, your attorney should prepare you to do so; he should introduce you to the trial procedure and fully explain the setting and context in which you will testify.  He also should fully prepare you for rigorous cross-examination by the prosecutor, and how to effectively deal with it.


The decision to testify or not is always the client's to make, not the attorney's. Your attorney can give you his best advice, but the ultimate decision to testify or not at trial, is yours.

You should get a written agreement

Your Attorney should provide you with a written contract covering all phases of the representation, and including the charge for representing you in each phase.


Depending on your facts, there may be a way for the attorney to tailor the representation to save fees.  If your prospective attorney will not do this, you might need to shop your case around.


I have heard that some attorneys will engage a client on one fee quotation, and then later demand a larger fee - that was not discussed in the beginning - to either move the case along or conclude it. That is unethical, in my opinion.


Discuss all of these matters and all of your options fully before making any agreement for representation . . . and get it all in writing.

None of my business, but . . .

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. 

Proverbs 3:5-7

FAQ'S

  • Q:  Can I get my money back from the bondsman at the end of my case ?  A:  No. You or someone in your behalf agreed to pay him a fee - usually 10% of the bond amount - for posting your bond through a bonding (insurer) company.
  • Q:  If the police seized some of my money or property, can I get that back at the end of a case ?  A:  That depends.  If the police believe that your money or property was the fruit of a felony, at the time they seize it - usually at your arrest - they must give you notice that they think it is contraband and that they intend to confiscate it in a civil process.  You must then object to the seizure in writing, within a certain amount of time.  Do not ignore the paperwork they give you, because if you fail to timely object in writing, you will waive your rights to get your property back quickly.  If the police have seized property that you obtained honestly, you should retain an attorney to fight for your property.
  • Q:  If I go to trial and a jury convicts me, can I get a bond if I want to appeal the verdict ?  A:  Not if you have been previously convicted of a felony.  Also, depending on what the conviction was for, you could qualify for an appeal bond, but they are often quite expensive (for the obvious reason, i.e., to prevent folks from jumping bond and running away during the appeal process).