Client interviews are an important part of criminal defense work. When I first meet a potential client I spend a good amount of time going over the events that led to arrest. Police reports are only going to tell me that some cop thinks my client is guilty. I want to know my client experienced.
I always tell my client’s that I do not care what they did or did not do, if they use or sell drugs, drink and drive, write bad checks etc. I only care that they answer my questions honestly. Proper defense work requires some degree of attorney client-cooperation.
When I was a public defender I noticed that defendants had a hard time opening up. I blamed this on the fact that the defendants saw a public defender as another government employee. That as a public defender I was part of the system or working with the State.
I had to convince these indigent defendants that as a public defender I was not only a “real lawyer” but I was their lawyer.
In private practice I think that less than complete answers come from two main factors.
2. An erronneous belief that if I will not fight as hard if I know you are guilty.
I have stated earlier that I do not determine guilt or innocence. My representation is the same if a defendant believes him/herself guilty or not. Only judges and juries pronounce guilt. My job is to get the best result and to help my client make important decisions.
It is much harder to represent a client with bad information. If a client misrepresents facts it can waste valuable investigation time. Unlike the State who has armies of officers, investigators, and assistants; defense lawyers have limited resources and time to investigate.
Trust your defense lawyer. If he/she asks you a question, there is a reason. I know you are embarassed and you would rather not be in my office reliving your arrest. However, at this point we have to fight this case and I can’t fight anything without your help.
Remember- If a cop ask you a question about the facts of a criminal case- Ask for a defense lawyer. If a defense lawyer asks you- tell him the truth.