Questions and Answers About The First Meeting – Consultation With My Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer
Questions and Answers About The First Meeting – Consultation With My Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – The first meeting with your Colorado criminal lawyer is intended to do many things – among them -begin evaluating the specific defense or tactics to be employed in your case.
Before meeting with you lawyer – much information – if available – should be assembled.
I. Considerations That Arise BEFORE You Meet With Your Lawyer
Needing A Criminal Lawyer Can Arise In Many Ways
For spouses, parents, friends and family – the crisis that brings with it a need for a criminal lawyer can begin with a phone call from the jail or the station house. It may be a referral from a civil attorney, or a person who has received a grand jury subpoena. At times – and this is one of the most frightening of situations – the police arrive en masse and begin a search of your home with a search warrant.
In juvenile criminal cases, a school principal will discovery “sexting” type e-mails have been sent to a boyfriend or threatening statements have been made, The call under those circumstances reflects on fears of the impact of such indiscretions on their child’s academic record.
What ever the reason for the call – there are consistent themes that predominate:
Make contact with the lawyer you want to retain.
- The lawyer will make contact with the law enforcement or other authorities to announce they represent you or your interests.
- The lawyer will determine the “stage” of the proceeding so as to know how fast and in what ways they must act.
- If an arrest has happened or is imminent – the lawyer should determine the amount of bail or the position of the detective or District Attorney on the bond to be set on the arrest.
- The lawyer should instruct you to NOT speak to ANYONE other than you about the case.
Key Issue 1: Before Meeting With Your Lawyer – You (The Accused – Suspect – Or Defendant) Should Immediately Assert Their Right To Remain Silent Or To A Lawyer
If you are in custody and cannot contact your family in a timely way – you must assert your right to remain silent and to a lawyer. The lawyer cannot do always do that for you by calling the police station or the jail. Seconds here may be crucial – so always remember that fact.
The lawyer cannot always get to the jail or the interrogation room as quickly as necessary to stop the interrogation. It may be after hours and a phone call to the DA may not be possible. If it is – the lawyer will call the DA and instruct him or her he or she represents you and to make certain all questioning ceases.
Key Issue 2: Where Are You In The Criminal Justice Process?
Many police investigations involve widespread “nets” that focus on different players in the crime being investigated. A critical question your lawyer should answer is what role will you play in the case. Two legal terms of art apply. If there has not been an arrest – then the first question is are you the “target” of the investigation – or just a witness.
Whether you are a “target” or a “witness” in an investigation is not always clear – but classically speaking – “target” is someone the DA intends to charge and a “witness” is someone who has useful information and will not be charged.
A ‘subject” is kind of a wobbler – and is a person of interest whose status can change and who can go either way.
Key Issue 3: Are The Charging Documents Available?
If a target of an investigation has already been charged and – or arrested, the lawyer must locate the charging documents. These include the information and complaint or indictment, the arrest warrant (if applicable), the search warrant and supporting affidavit of probable cause (if applicable).
Key Issue 4: Remaining Silent – Means Remaining Silent
You should never talk to ANYONE except your lawyer about the investigation, the facts and evidence in the case and the charges. This warning INCLUDES friends, family and cell-mates.
Never consent to ANY form of search, and if the police say they have a search warrant – demand to see it BEFORE you let them into your home or place of business.
In making a serious felony case – there is no mistake that not only will friends, co-workers, employees, and cell mates be pressured to “turn state’s evidence” the threats can be very real such as a possible prosecution as a co-conspirator and the serious threat of a material witness warrant. Yes – even family can be subpoenaed and forced to testify or beheld in contempt of court.
Only marital and attorney-client privilege usually apply in this situation – contrary to popular belied – there is no such thing as “intra-family privilege.” Mothers – fathers – brothers and sisters CAN be called to testify against you at hearings and trials.
The standard answer when these important people in your life ask? –
“My lawyer told me that I can’t talk about the case.” If this tool is NOT used – confiding in friends and family may actually make them targets and they may receive subpoenas to find out what you have said to them.
Key Issue 5: Dealing With Pressure To Cooperate
Turning state’s evidence may seem like a great idea on it’s face – but it is dangerous. The pressure to make an immediate decision as to whether you will “cooperate” with the police. All decisions in this regard should be based on a strict risk benefit analysis.
While some information -or “intel” may be valuable to the prosecution – a short delay for clarification of the “contract” – the quid pro quo – of the agreement with the prosecution is needed. Your lawyer – if they are experienced – is capable of negotiating the exchange and obtain the best possible result from the nature of the cooperation.
What You Should Consider Before Deciding To Become A CI – (Cooperating Individual)
- The Temporal Connection – Is the crime you know about – in progress or is about to pass?Drug crimes usually fit into this category. Other crimes such as white collar crimes are more long term and have less immediate investigative needs.
- How Strong Is The Case Against You? If the admissible evidence against you is overwhelming, the risks inherent in cooperating with law enforcement could become a more viable option.
- What Is The Threat If You Are Identified As A “Snitch” – As noted – you must always weigh the risks that the person or person’s “fingered” may seek reprisal as a result of the betrayal. An experienced lawyer can help you analyze that decision.
- If You Strike A Deal Only Deal Directly With The DA – NEVER EVER strike a deal to trade cooperation for a dismissal or favorable plea bargain unless you are negotiating directly with the DA. The police do NOT have authority to make promises that bind the District Attorney’s office.
II. What Happens At The First Interview With Your Lawyer?
Some things you should look for and expect:
- Your lawyer should be warm and polite.
- He or she should ask you if they have your permission to use your first name.
- The lawyer should hold his or her calls and turn off their cell phone.
- The lawyer should control your expectations giving you a realistic understanding of your case from the start. If the case is very serious – the lawyer should give you the good news AND the possible bad news in the case.
- The lawyer should be available during and AFTER hours… day and night.
- The lawyer should control the interview and obtain all the information he or she needs while answering all of your questions.
The Mechanics Of The Interview
- The interview should be disciplined, organized and controlled.
- The lawyer should be empathetic to you and your cause.
- The lawyer should not be judgmental – overly confrontational, or demeaning.
- Your fears and concerns are very real and should be addressed. While a lawyer is not a therapist – the lawyer should have enough life experience to help you understand your fears and by explaining the process to you – to help quell them if possible.
- The lawyer should have good eye contact and make certain he or she listens to your every word.
What Kinds Of Information Should Be Exchanged?
Cases turn not on what the possible evidence against you might be – but what the ACTUAL evidence known to law enforcement is.
Questions That Should Be Asked: – Example – ALL Witnesses
You should disclose every single detail you know about the individuals involved. Who knows what – when -how – and why. Ask how your client knows what he says or how might the witnesses know what the police attribute to them:
- Were there witnesses present at the scene or otherwise involved in some way?
- Did these witnesses hear about the crime from someone source other than you?
- Did you speak to these possible witnesses about the crime?
- Name, contact information and your relationship to the witness.
- Other issues to be covered:
- Basic background of the day or days in question.
- The arrest and – or search.
- The possible or actual crimes to be charged.
Getting The Story Straight
The facts should be clear and repeated over and over until they are clear Any gaps should be filled in and copious notes should be taken. If the lawyer does not take notes or otherwise records the interview – ask yourself why. While “building rapport” is necessary- so is clarity and consistency – do NOT be offended if the lawyer writes down your words and later asks you to write a detailed statement and autobiographical statement about yourself.
Sometimes the lawyer will take notes and then later dictate a file memo quickly thereafter to make the facts clear in the client’s file or to raise new issues not previously addressed but that need to be answered. .
The Actual Questioning By Your Lawyer
- Questions will be open-ended and for the most part non-leading.
- Answers should be complete and without unnecessary interruption.
- Each area should be exhaust before moving to the next area and should usually be told chronologically.
- It is important to learn everything in order to prepare for the longer-term tasks, including preparing suppression motions, preparing for trial, negotiating a plea or other favorable disposition, and preparing for sentencing.
The clear goal here is to find out your version of events and the story of your life. It is not meant to be intrusive but, above all, intrusive or not, it must be thorough. Lawyers must know everything if they are to defend you and control, as much as possible, what happens in court.
Most ethical and experienced lawyers will seek the whole truth and not the client’s false story, Lawyers who try to attempt and to maintain “intentional ignorance” are playing a losing game in the long run.
At the end of each area there should be closure with words such as – “Have I missed anything?” or “Is there anything else I should know about or you want to tell me about?
Some Standard Questions You Should Expect To Be Asked
- Did you talk to the police?
- Was anyone else present such as a friend or your spouse?
- Did the police take notes or otherwise record your statement?
- Did you sign anything in writing? What and why?
- What questions did the police ask you and what was your response to each question?
- If you did you talk to the police about the facts did you tell them anything else?
The lawyer should run the risk of irritating you – but should always confront you with inconsistencies, gaps and even apparent lies in his or her effort to get to the truth. Do NOT be offended. The lawyer should be professional at all times but maintain the goals of the interview itself.
The Lawyers Goals In The First Interview Should Be Organized And Should Be Clear
- Get the information needed for any immediate steps to be taken.
- Help the client to obtain a understanding of his or her legal rights and make certain they are not intentionally or accidentally waived or otherwise lost.
- Get the information needed for the long term steps in the case.
- Make certain there is good rapport, confidence and trust in the lawyer-client relationship moving forward.
Questions and Answers About The First Meeting – Consultation With My Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The Author – A Denver Colorado Drug Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer – or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-220-2277.
If you are charged with A Colorado crime or you have questions about Questions and Answers About The First Meeting – Consultation With My Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer, please call our office. The Law Offices of H. Michael Steinberg, in Denver, Colorado, provide criminal defense clients with effective, efficient, intelligent and strong legal advocacy. We can educate you and help you navigate the stressful and complex legal process related to your criminal defense issue.
H. Michael Steinberg, is a Denver, Colorado criminal defense lawyer with over 30 years of day to day courtroom experience – specializing in Colorado Criminal Law along the Front Range. He will provide you with a free initial case consultation to evaluate your legal issues and to answer your questions with an honest assessment of your options. Remember, it costs NOTHING to discuss your case. Call now for an immediate free phone consultation.
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