What To Expect at an Initial Legal Consultation
If you’ve been charged with a crime in LA, it can be scary to reach out to an attorney. It may feel like you are admitting to yourself that you may be in trouble. But the initial consultation with your lawyer is an essential step in the fight for your freedom and reputation.
An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can put your mind at ease and help you understand the charges against you and help you understand your options.
Share Your Story About What Happened
The first thing to expect at an initial legal consultation is for the attorney to explain confidentiality to you. Then, they will ask you to share your story about what happened. This is your opportunity to get everything off your chest. By telling your full story about what led to criminal charges, your lawyer can begin to help you.
Your lawyer will be curious about what actually happened, and also what the police or prosecutors are saying happened. They may stop you to ask important questions during your story. They may take notes, or they may choose to focus on your story and take notes later.
Your lawyer will not judge you. Try not to leave out any details when you tell your attorney what happened. It is crucial that your lawyer know the full story to effectively help you.
The Lawyer Will Evaluate Your Case
After you have explained your side of what happened, and the criminal defense attorney has asked you questions, the lawyer will evaluate your case. The lawyer will explain possible outcomes based on the information you have provided, and how likely each one may be.
Possible outcomes include:
- Acquittal after a trial
- Convincing prosecutors to drop or amend charges downward
- Conviction at trial
- Accepting a plea deal for a lighter sentence
Your lawyer will explain the strengths and weaknesses of your case. These are crucial in evaluating which outcome is likely.
After explaining the likelihood of certain outcomes, your attorney will explain to you what kind of sentence you are looking at if convicted. Of course, the outcomes and sentences vary greatly depending on the unique charges and the allegations against you.
As part of the evaluation process, your lawyer may explain that they need to send out an investigator, or serve a discovery demand on the prosecutor, before they can effectively evaluate the case. This is reasonable, since it is hard to judge a case without knowing what evidence exists in your favor or against you.
Set Goals With the Lawyer
Another important thing to expect at the initial legal consultation is the lawyer will want to know your goals for the case. At the end of the day, your lawyer works for you and will try as hard as they can to accomplish your goal. However, they may also explain in their evaluation that certain results are not likely based on the facts and evidence.
Some clients want a full acquittal at trial. Other clients don’t want bad publicity and will accept a quiet, favorable resolution. Sometimes, someone with a weak case may be excited to get probation and avoid jail. It is different for everyone, so you need to discuss your goals with your lawyer so you are both on the same page from the start.
Evaluate the Lawyer
While your lawyer is evaluating the case, you should also be evaluating the lawyer.
Some questions you should ask yourself at the end of the meeting include:
- Do you trust them?
- Do they seem knowledgeable and experienced?
- Are they willing to fight your case at trial? (you don’t want a “meet and plead” lawyer!)
- Are they patient and answer your questions?
- Do you know how much this will cost?
Asking yourself these questions will help you determine whether or not you want to proceed with hiring the lawyer for your case. Your choice of lawyer is one of the most important choices you will make, and you have the right to go with someone else if you don’t have a good impression after the first meeting.
Make Sure You Leave Knowing What to Do Next
The last thing to expect at an initial legal consultation is that the lawyer should explain to you what you need to do next. The whole reason you are hiring an attorney is because you don’t know what to do!
Your lawyer should explain next steps to you, including things like:
- Invoking your right to remain silent
- Your next court date
- How to stay out of trouble during your case (avoiding witness tampering or evidence tampering, complying with subpoenas, complying with bond conditions)
- How your lawyer will communicate with you about your case
- What your lawyer will do next to fight your case
If your initial consultation covers all of the topics covered here, you probably had a great meeting. Remember to communicate any questions or concerns to your lawyer throughout the case. If you are facing criminal charges, contact a reputable Los Angeles criminal defense law firm.