When you face criminal charges, it is your future that is on the line. The outcome of your case affects you and your family more than anyone else. Therefore, you deserve to have a say in your defense. A good defense attorney will work with you and educate you along the way so that you can make the right decisions for you. Your attorney should not try to make those decisions for you. Here are a few tips for participating in your own criminal defense:
- Be candid and open with your attorney – Your attorney needs to have the details regarding your case in order to create the right legal strategy for your defense. Everything you tell your attorney is confidential.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions – You need to understand what is happening in your case. If your lawyer is doing a poor job of explaining the law or the process, ask questions.
- Make sure you understand all your options – When your lawyer tells you that the prosecutor has offered a plea deal, find out what all your options are. Do not let your attorney pressure you to make any choice that is not right for you.
- Discuss the things that are important to you – Your case is about more than just the law to you and your family. You may have many other issues to consider. Let your attorney know what is important to you.
- Don’t rush into a plea deal – Once you accept a plea, you cannot go back. You are giving up many rights and accepting a conviction on your record. Your attorney needs to explain all the pros and cons to you before you accept a deal.
You make the choices
Your attorney may have the best of intentions and really believe they are doing the best job possible for you, but you have a right to be heard. Only you can make certain decisions regarding your defense strategy, such as:
- Testifying at trial
- Accepting or rejecting a plea deal
- Waiving a jury trial
These are just a few examples. Your lawyer’s job is to thoroughly inform you about the law and your options so that you can make the final decision on how to go forward. Certain parts of the process move very fast and you will feel pressured to make these decisions. Just remember that this is your case and your future. You do have a voice.