A criminal lawyer is a strong advocate for anyone who has been accused of a crime. Meeting with the lawyer for the first time can be very stressful especially when dealing with the uncertainty of the criminal charges. Getting ready to meet the attorney involves gathering as much relevant information as possible. There are several ways to prepare for a first meeting with a criminal lawyer.
Gather Arrest, Bail and Police Documents
The first thing to do before meeting a criminal lawyer is to gather all documents issued by courts, police or other officials. This should include documents related the initial arrest, bail contracts and court papers showing charges. These documents will provide the attorney with important information about the case sometimes in very precise legal language.
Bring any Witness Information
It is important to gather as much information as possible about any people who witnessed the incident, who could confirm an alibi or who could assist with the defense. A criminal attorney will want full names, contact information and brief descriptions about why the person is relevant to the case. Lawyers can use this information to build a defense if the witnesses have valuable details about the incident.
Collect all Evidence
The next step is to collect all evidence related to the case. Evidence could include pictures, videos on cell phones or voice messages from the other party. It is best to bring anything that could be used as evidence since seemingly small things could be very significant legally. Evidence taken to the meeting will usually be left with the lawyer.
Review Personal Finances
Anyone who is paying for a criminal defense lawyer will want to review all personal finances in order to get a clear picture of what can and cannot be afforded. Many lawyers will work with clients to develop a payment agreement especially if the case seems very weak. Understanding how much money is available will make it easier to negotiate with a lawyer.
Write a Statement Describing the Incident
Some time should be taken before a meeting to write a complete and accurate statement describing the incident that resulted in the arrest. The description should include all details both large and small. It should also include any actions that might reflect negatively on the defense since omitting these could cause major problems later. Even the smallest details should be included since they could be relevant when disproving a prosecution theory. Writing this type of statement also makes it easier for the lawyer to review exactly what happened after the meeting.
Create a Confidential Envelope or Folder
An important step before meeting with a criminal lawyer is to create a confidential envelope or folder. This is simply a large envelope or folder that has the words private and confidential and to my lawyer written clearly on the surface. All important documents and communications should be transported in this folder. This protects the defendant and the evidence in the folder if the documents are lost or stolen before trial.
Make a list of Questions for the Lawyer
Most people who are meeting with a criminal attorney for the first time will have many questions. There are often questions about the case, the process and even the qualifications or opinions of the lawyer. It is a good idea to make a list of these questions in the days before the first meeting. Writing a list makes it impossible to forget important questions.
Prepare to Answer Honestly
Anyone meeting with a criminal lawyer should be prepared to answer all questions honestly. This includes questions that might have incriminating or embarrassing answers. Defendants who are not honest or who omit details are making it harder for the lawyer to be an effective advocate.