-- Be Aware and Be Prepared --

The Government's Evidence and Yours

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

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

Before deciding to go to trial or not, you must know:


1) What evidence the prosecutor will present to the jury to try to convict you;

2) What the jury will likely think about the evidence; and

3) How your attorney will defend against that evidence.


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


After fully discussing ALL facts with your attorney, if he or she tells you that 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 isn't.


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


Finally, it is unethical for any attorney to promise or guarantee any specific result or a particular outcome in any case, and that is especially true in a criminal case.


So, if you speak to an attorney and he promises that he can get you a particular result or outcome -


or that there's no doubt he can get your case thrown out -


or that it is absolutely certain you will win your case at trial . . .


YOU SHOULD CONSULT WITH ANOTHER ATTORNEY.


IF YOU ARE ALREADY REPRESENTED BY AN ATTORNEY, YOU SHOULD TELL YOUR ATTORNEY THAT YOU ARE GOING TO FIND ONE WHO DOES NOT MAKE UNETHICAL PROMISES -- AND YOU SHOULD DO SO IMMEDIATELY.

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

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

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

If you are arrested - meaning the police have you in their custody -- detaining you -- and will not let you leave (you should ask them to let you leave if there is any doubt) - and the police try to ask you questions, my best advice is:


1) do not answer any questions;


-- AND -- 


2) immediately request an attorney.


POLICE TACTICS:


The police often try to intimidate someone they arrest into making a "statement."  If the citizen doesn't "talk," the police then tell them they are not being "cooperative."  They often make the citizen feel like they are going to be in "big trouble" with the judge, or that they are going to make matters worse, by not telling them "your side of the story."

 

Sometimes the police try to convince the person that they should "just tell their side of the story," to prove that the police should not arrest them, or that the police should let them go.


That ain't gonna happen in 99.99% of the time, and by giving a statement, you are just telling a story and making evidence that the police will misconstrue, and the prosecutor will use against you.


The police also -- get ready for this -- sometimes lie to folks in  custody, telling them they have all kinds of evidence (DNA, video, phone recordings, documents, etc.), or that other witnesses have told them a different story about what happened, or that they really aren't trying to arrest you, so there's no need to hold out and not cooperate.


Another police tactic to get a statement, is to make persons in custody feel afraid and guilty about "failing to cooperate," telling them that either the judge or the judicial process will go "harder" on them later, if they don't cooperate now.


5TH AMENDMENT:


However, you have a 5th Amendment Constitutional right not to make any statements to the police when you are in custody, and you have the right 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 to arrest somebody, 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 as evidence later.


So it is of utmost importance to you, that whether you are questioned, arrested, placed in custody, taken to 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 any facts about 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 because you think he won't like you, will think less of you, will not defend you to his fullest, that he will morally "judge" you for what you may have - or haven't - done,  or that it will be "bad" for your defense if somebody finds out that "secret" thing.  Usually, somebody out there already knows whatever it is you are trying to hide, and if it really is bad for you and you don't tell your attorney about it, 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 or are afraid to talk about, in order to fully prepare your defense to the charges.

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

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

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 a citizen does not testify in her own behalf at trial, for reasons that the attorney will discuss completely with the client.


Not surprisingly, however, many prospective jurors say they want to hear testimony from the defendant, and want to know 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 not to participate in committing a fraud on the court, by allowing his client to testify falsely.


Moral of this story is:


DON'T LIE.


And that includes even "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 no one would know if they lied about something, maybe just some little thing.  Many times, the lie is about some trivial side matter only remotely connected to their case.


CONSEQUENCE ALERT:


When the lie comes out on cross-examination, or through another witness (like the police), believe me, the prosecutor will smugly tell the jury that if you lied at all, and even if the lie was bout a small thing, you must be lying about the big stuff, that they should not trust liars about anything, your entire story should be disbelieved . . . 


and juries will believe the prosecutor, because guess what ?


Nobody likes liars . . .

even little ones.


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 should make you feel comfortable in telling your true story, and should help you find the best way to tell the truth. He also should fully prepare you for rigorous cross-examination by the prosecutor, give you examples of what to expect, and demonstrate the best ways to effectively deal with it.


Ultimately, the decision to testify or not is always the client's to make, not the attorney's. Your attorney can give you his best assistance and advice, but the final decision to testify or not at trial, is the client's.

You should get a written agreement

You should get a written agreement

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

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.


Some attorneys have a reputation for engaging a client on one fee quotation to get hired, and then later demand a larger fee - that was not discussed in the beginning - before they will either move the case along or conclude it.


That is unethical, in my opinion.


Discuss all of these matters and all of your options with an attorney before making any agreement for representation . . .


. . . and get it all in writing.

None of my business, but . . .

You should get a written agreement

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.

 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.

 

Proverbs 3:5-7

FAQ'S

You should get a written agreement

None of my business, but . . .

  • 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, if you do not have any prior felony convictions, you possibly 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).