Criminal defense clients come into consultations with a lot of anxiety about the process, and they want to know what they can to do to help their case. I get it, being arrested is a traumatic experience and you have a strong impulse to “do something” to make this better. Focus that energy and you can your defense lawyer do his/her job. Here are 5 ways to help your criminal case.
1. If this is a drug or alcohol case, let’s work on those issues now.
First a libertarian disclaimer- I don’t think anyone should be arrested for drug possession. I find recreational drug use morally neutral. However, the State disagrees with my view and wants to arrest everyone every time they use drugs.
If you have been arrested for drug possession the worst thing you can do is get arrested again for drug possession. It makes my job a lot harder. The good news is that between the time you are arrested and the time your case ends is usually a few months at a minimum. Use this time to get a hold of any substance issues you have.
I tell my clients to see their doctor and look for any underlying causes of their drug use, and to see if their is a better way to mitigate this problem. For example, a lot of people who suffer from anxiety may use controlled substances to feel normal. There may be a prescription drug that can replace the illegal drug you are taking. Again, if it was up to me I wouldn’t care what drugs you did. But if you are going to end up on probation (which most drug cases do), then you don’t want to have to worry about failing UA’s.
If you believe you have an addiction problem, then now is the time to seek counseling and medical treatment for that issue. I can solve legal problems, but mental health and substance abuse issues are beyond my training. It will not hurt your case to seek help. The worst time to try and quit a drug or alcohol habit is while on probation. Probation adds stress to your life, so get started before you are on probation.
2. Follow up with me.
I tell my clients that I am going to do almost all of the work on their case, but there are some things the client has to do to help us. For example, all Guest and Gray criminal clients are given a questionnaire to answer with a list of documents we need. It’s always a red flag when a client doesn’t supply this information, and/or is not responsive to our phone calls and emails. If you will not answer questions that will help me litigate your case, then I can’t do my job effectively. If you won’t make your appointments or return my emails then I can’t do my job. I find that clients who are often the most angry or upset about the process, are the least communicative with my office.
3. Ask questions.
Almost all of our criminal cases are flat fee. There are many benefits to a flat fee agreement, one being that it encourages robust communication between client and attorney. I am not going to bill you more if you ask questions. So ask questions. There is some kind of criminal defendant paralysis that strikes some clients. They get so anxious about the process, that they put off asking questions and they don’t get the information they need. Call me, email me, set a consult, whatever it takes. Your questions are important and we will do our best to get you the answers you need as soon as possible. If you are nervous or anxious about a case you can mitigate that by talking to me.
4. Find a way to handle the stress of being a defendant.
Like I said in 3, some clients are very anxious about their case, and they want the case to be over with as soon as possible. This leads many clients to want to accept a plea offer against our recommendations so they don’t have to come to court anymore. I know you want the case to end, but criminal convictions last forever, and you don’t want to have buyers remorse after you accept a plea.
Talk to me if you are nervous and find a positive outlet for your stress. Exercise is a good way to reduce stress, but if you hate the gym find a way to put this case in the proper perspective. There is a process to get the best result in your case, and that process takes time. Quick results are rarely the best result in criminal defense.
5. Live your life.
One of the things defense lawyers do in plea negotiations is humanize their client to the prosecutor. Keep doing great things so I can tell the ADA or Judge (if we have a trial/hearing) about how this event was a one time mistake, and that you are an otherwise hardworking upstanding member of the community. Keep working, go to school, take care of your family. People get arrested, it happens, but if you get back into your normal routine, or develop a new productive routine, that will help me and you.