How to Prepare For a Consultation With a Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you’ve never hired a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer before, getting ready for the initial consultation may be unfamiliar and unnerving.
It’s normal to be nervous and anxious. At the Rodriguez Law Group, your consultation is your opportunity to meet us, and our opportunity to answer your questions, and explain to you the possible outcomes of your case.
While we will strive to be laid back and make you as comfortable as possible, we also want you to know that we take your case very seriously. If we represent your case, we will aggressively advocate for you, and work hard for the best possible outcome.
This article is about how to prepare for your consultation. There is a lot you can do, but if you are feeling too overwhelmed to do anything, you should make scheduling the consultation the one thing you do. Do NOT put off calling a lawyer because you feel like you need to gather documents that you don’t have and extensively prepare.
If you are facing criminal charges, the most important thing is that you contact an experienced lawyer promptly. While you do not have to prepare, there are things you can do to help your case, to make the most of the time you spend in your initial consultation, and to also allow your attorney to get started immediately, should you choose to hire them.
- 1 Before You Meet With Your Lawyer: Do Not Post on Social Media About Your Criminal Case
- 2 Don’t Bring Family / Friends / Acquaintances To Your Consultation
- 3 Gather Court Documents / Paperwork
- 4 Write Down Your Recollection of Events
- 5 Make a List of Witnesses / Alibi Corroborators
- 6 Write Down Your Questions For Your Attorney
- 7 Schedule Your Free Consultation Today
Before You Meet With Your Lawyer: Do Not Post on Social Media About Your Criminal Case
Do not share details about your arrest, pending charges, or your criminal case on social media. All criminal defense attorneys will generally advise to not post any new content on social media, and avoid commenting, liking, or “checking in” on apps.
There is no benefit, and seemingly harmless interactions can lead to avoidable questioning or negative consequences.
Because courts have ruled that there is no expectation of privacy on social media, while your criminal case is proceeding, it is a good time to take a break from social media.
Even if your social media settings are set to private, any of your friends or acquaintances can be tapped to provide information or screenshots. While this may seem unlikely, investigators have fine-tuned their approaches and are very often able to get whatever information they need.
A good-looking investigator may contact one of your old coworkers or classmates that you haven’t spoken to in years, and strike up a friendly conversation. Next thing you know, they have access to your private posts.
Don’t Bring Family / Friends / Acquaintances To Your Consultation
Having kids, parents, or friends in a consultation about your criminal defense case can be a distraction or interruption, and it can prevent you from telling a full version of events. If you bring a third party to the consultation, you could also lose some level of privacy or confidentiality.
Even if your meeting is set up by a well-meaning friend or relative, they do not need to be in your meeting. Emphasize the importance of having a serious discussion with your attorney alone. If you have nosy family members who will immediately demand a full account of your consultation, talk to your lawyer about the risks of discussing your case with other people.
It can be tricky when a friend or relative is helping pay legal fees for your criminal case. While accepting payments from nonclients is acceptable, it absolutely must be addressed if a third party wants or needs status updates and reports on your criminal case. These concerns, as well as workable solutions, can be addressed in your consultation.
Gather Court Documents / Paperwork
You should have your driver’s license or another form of identification available. Bring a copy of the following, if you have it:
- Police reports
- Hospital visit documentation (if applicable)
- Misdemeanor or felony complaints
- Bail paperwork
- Restraining order information
- Details of prior arrests/convictions.
As a general rule, the more information you can provide, the better. If you have any paperwork that states when your next court date is, bring that. If you don’t have these documents, do not stress. Your lawyer can request them from the court.
Write Down Your Recollection of Events
Write down a chronological version of events, starting at the beginning, and include as many details as possible, including dates, times, streets, rooms, makes and models of cars, types of weapons, etc.
If people are injured, describe the nature of the injuries and location on the body. List all the people that were present when the crime occurred. If you remember specific things that were said, write those down.
Your narrative should ideally be thorough enough so that someone who wasn’t there could read your story and understand what happened. The sooner after an incident you write down the full sequence of events, the more details you will remember.
Your attorney can use your initial version of events to identify what additional information or investigation is needed. If you have evidence such as text messages, emails, or voicemails that are relevant to your case, mention these to your attorney.
Make a List of Witnesses / Alibi Corroborators
Having phone numbers and email addresses for witnesses can save time later if your attorney asks you for it and you need to look it up. Along with names, write down the nature of your relationships with your witnesses, for example, co-worker, neighbor, girlfriend’s little brother, etc.
If you do not have contact information, you can list where someone works or lives so that they can be contacted at a later time, if needed.
Write Down Your Questions For Your Attorney
Your consultation is your opportunity to interview an attorney and ask difficult questions. While you can ask the typical questions about education and experience, you should also ask questions about your case.
Some of the questions you might consider asking in your initial consultation:
- How long have you been practicing criminal law?
- Have you handled cases like mine previously?
- What is your success rate?
- How often do your cases go to trial?
- Have you handled a lot of cases in the court where my case is being handled?
- Will you be my attorney? If not, who will be?
- What will you need from me if I hire you?
- What are the strengths of my case? What are the weaknesses?
- What are the potential penalties for my charges?
- What are my options for defenses or plea bargains?
- Do you see any way of getting my charges dropped?
- How long will the process take?
- How will we communicate about my case?
- What are your rates? Will there be added costs like witness or investigation costs?
You should feel comfortable talking to your attorney, and feel like you can be honest and open with them. Respect, honesty, and ease of communication are important.
Schedule Your Free Consultation Today
Having a knowledgeable and skilled lawyer can be the difference between being found guilty or not guilty. Or it can be the difference between 20 years in prison and five years in prison. If you’d like to speak with a lawyer about your case, we are here to help.
Contact the Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at the Rodriguez Law Group to schedule your free consultation. In your scheduling phone call, we will be happy to also answer any initial questions about how to prepare for a consultation with a criminal defense lawyer.
Last Updated on December 18, 2020