-- Be Aware and Be Prepared --

Their Evidence and Yours

Before deciding to go to trial or not, you should know what evidence the Government 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 combat 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, what a client thinks might not be important enough to share with his attorney, turns out to be the very thing that might 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 who declines to give them a statement, by telling them that 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 ruse the police employ 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 often their minds are made up well before they talk to the person they wind up arresting.  In short, they are just trying to get a statement out of you to use against you later.


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


DO NOT DISCUSS YOUR CASE WITH ANYONE BESIDES YOUR ATTORNEY !


Finally, when you meet with your attorney, do not withhold any fact from your attorney because you think he 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 is quite possible that whatever it is will come out at the worst possible time: during your trial.


Don't withold information about your case from your attorney. He can handle it, and he needs to know about it in order to prepare 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 your attorney will discuss with you.


Not surprisingly, however, most jurors say that they want to hear from the defendant. Also not surprisingly, when defendants chose to testify but lie, the jury will figure it out. If you make up a story that is inconsistent with what you have already told your attorney - because you think it will help your case better than what you said before - your attorney has an ethical obligation to not participate with you in committing a fraud on the court, by testifying falsely.


So the moral is: don't lie.


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 and no one would know when they lied about something.  Many times, what they lied about was 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.


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


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; and he should prepare you for cross-examination by the prosecutor.


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, 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. Proverbs 3:5

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).