When it comes to preparing for a criminal trial, defendants should never need to conceal information from their defense counsel. In most jurisdictions, your attorney is on your side regardless of the situation and is bound by attorney-client privilege. While it’s not in your interests to lie to them at any point, it can also be a good idea to let them take the lead during consultations. Often, when you are accused of a crime, you may feel the need to omit or avoid talking about certain things, but there are some things you should always tell your criminal defense attorney. Remember that they are on your side and their job is to help you get the best results from your trial as possible. With that in mind, here are 5 things you should always tell your criminal defense attorney.
1. Ask Before Telling (Criminal Defense Attorney)
First, you should know that your attorney can actually tell you what information they do and don’t want you to disclose, and what is and isn’t relevant to your case. It’s always a good idea to talk to your lawyer about what information you should or shouldn’t disclose to them before you begin the consultation. Depending on the situation and practitioner, it may be better to use certain phrasing or avoid explicit statements that could limit their options in the courtroom. A good attorney will be able to help you understand what information to disclose.
2. Embarrassing Exculpatory Facts of Criminal Defense Attorney
It’s important to let your attorney know everything that can be used to clear you of the case, even if some proofs can be embarrassing to you. Some defendants avoid revealing facts or alibis that could considerably strengthen their case because of the possible ramifications revealing this information could have. While infidelity or admission of other criminal activities can create a different kind of difficult situation, this information could also be vital for winning the current case. Trust your attorney to determine how best to present the evidence.
3. Potential Evidence or Testimony
Another important thing to share with your attorney includes evidence that is against you. While this may seem strange, this helps your attorney prepare their case. Your criminal defense attorney is likely going to ask about any forms of evidence or testimony that could be used against you in trial. While they will also do their own research on these matters, it’s important for defendants to deliver complete and accurate responses to help their legal professional create a more effective defense.
4. Character and Personal Witnesses
While your attorney does not need to know all the details of your life, it is important for them to be able to paint a general picture of your personality and character. Witnesses to the defendant’s character or personal habits aren’t always relevant, but can be used to temper a judgement or sway jury sentiments in some cases. Bringing in reputable witnesses to vouch for the defendant’s character can be particularly useful for minimizing long sentences for young defendants. Talk to your attorney to know how much information they need on you.
5. Position on Plea Bargaining
Finally, it is important for both you and your attorney to be on the same page where plea bargaining is involved. Do you see it as a viable option, or are you categorically opposed? While your attorney will likely discuss the potential for plea bargaining if it’s a desirable option, it doesn’t hurt to disclose your feelings on the matter during the consultation. Acknowledging your assent to bargain for a lesser charge or sentence can help speed up the negotiation process outside of the courtroom if that’s how you decide to proceed. Make sure to discuss this with your attorney so you both understand the options available.
Working with a defense attorney for the first time can be an overwhelming and frightening experience, so it’s easy to make hasty decisions that have serious consequences down the road. Even when facing a scary and challenging legal battle, it’s important to stay calm and communicate with your defense attorney to develop an effective legal defense strategy. Follow the tips above and make sure to communicate about these five things with your attorney before allowing your trial to proceed.