CRIMINAL GUIDE: GOING TO COURT
We always encourage everyone to obey the law and respect law enforcement
officers, but if you are accused of a crime or serious traffic matter,
the following suggestions can help in insure that you are treated fairly.
Always hire a qualified criminal defense attorney to discuss the specifics
of your case.
COMMUNICATION – Talk to your attorney. Do your part to insure clear and proper communication.
Provide your attorney a complete and accurate typed or printed statement
of your version of the facts. Indicate on your statement
"This statement is confidentially addressed to my attorney and is
privileged attorney-client communication". Be as specific as you can. List the names, addresses, and telephone numbers
of anyone involved in your case. Be sure to include all relevant dates,
times, and places. Explain to your attorney any personal issues involving
criminal, medical, psychological, and substance abuse problems. Ask your
attorney their evaluation of your case, and what you can do to be treated
fairly. Discuss all options from trial to plea agreements.
EVIDENCE – Evidence is any form of proof legally presented at a trial, including
in part records, documents, photographs, forensics, drug analysis, and
the testimony of witnesses. The rules of evidence control what evidence
is material, relevant, and admissible in court. If information is considered
in proper evidence, it will not be allowed. Provide your attorney a complete
list of all evidence know to you. This should include all tangible or
intangible property. Be sure to safely secure any items that you have
possession. Ask your attorney if he or she requested all exculpatory evidence
from the prosecution. Review all evidentiary matters with your attorney,
and be sure you understand its significance
WITNESSES AND OTHER PARTIES – Promptly give in writing to your attorney the names, addresses,
and telephones numbers of all potential witnesses, and the names of other
persons who may provide helpful information. Provide a summary of your
anticipated testimony. Note if you expect the witness to be helpful or
harmful to your case. Indicate if they will be cooperative. If possible,
obtain a written statement from them. Ask if they will voluntarily testify
in court or if they require a subpoena. You should provide all information
in time to have the witness properly served. Remember, witnesses are people
who provide information (evidence) in court through sworn testimony. They
may provide factual, character, alibi or other information. The testimony
of witnesses is governed by rules of evidence. Generally, witnesses may
testify regarding matters that are deemed material and relevant. A witness
is generally not allowed to give opinions, or testify to matters that
they did not personally observe. Witnesses must usually appear in court.
A written statement is generally
not acceptable. It is also important that you review with your attorney all
witnesses that may testify against you. Discuss in detail any relationship
you have with them, and what is their anticipated testimony. Discuss whether
these witnesses are unreliable, hostile, or biased.
COURT APPEARANCE – Timely appear in court for all scheduled court appearances. Be
in court at least
45 minutes before your scheduled court time. Remember that only the court can grant continuances.
You can be arrested and your bond forfeited if you do not timely appear
in court. Call your attorney's office the day before any hearing to
confirm your appearance. Remember, as the defendant, you will be the focus
of attention. Convey a positive impression. Jury members, judge, and others
can observe you inside and outside the courtroom. You want everyone to
be impressed with your honesty, sincerity and general demeanor. Always
be serious, polite and cordial. Avoid laughing, casual, belligerent or
confrontational behavior. Dress conservatively as if you were going to
an important meeting. Do not wear sunglasses, eat or chew gum, or engage
in provocative behavior.
COURT REPORTER – A court reporter transcribes and maintains a record of a court
hearing. Discuss with your attorney if you should hire a court reporter
for any hearings. Generally, a court reporter will not appear unless paid
in advance. You should provide any required funds to your attorney in
sufficient time before your hearing date.
YOUR CONDUCT – While your case is pending, it is extremely important that you
be a good citizen. Carefully obey all laws. Do not use alcohol or drugs.
Stay out of trouble. Avoid people and places that may get you into trouble.
Notify your attorney immediately if you are arrested for anything.
INFORMATION – Fundamental to a good relationship with your attorney is that
you stay in contact with them. Immediately notify your attorney regarding
any change in your address, telephone number, employment, or other information
regarding your case. Stay in contact with them. Call the day before your
trial date. Always appear in court unless you are told otherwise.
DO NOT TALK TO ANYONE – Do not talk to anyone without your attorney's permission.
Do not make any verbal or written statements to anyone, including the
police, regarding any aspect of your case. Anything you say may be used
against you in court. Anything you say can have a significant impact on
your case. One indiscreet word can result in your conviction. One misplaced
confidence can result in your incarceration. Do not talk to reporters
of news agencies. Any press releases should be done only after approval
of your lawyer.
SEARCHES AND POLICE CONTACT – Always be polite and cordial to the police or other authorities,
but do not voluntarily consent to a search of your person, home, vehicle
or other property. If served with a search warrant, you are required to
allow the police to fulfill their duty. However, do not say anything.
Be polite and request to talk to your attorney. Do not comment about ownership,
use or possession of property.
PRIVATE DETECTIVE – Discuss with your attorney if you should hire a private detective.
This is usually advisable if you are charged with a serious felony. Generally,
you are required to pay or provide funds for this purpose.
YOUR ATTORNEY – Obtain a written contract with your attorney and pay all agreed
fees. You do not want your attorney to worry about being paid. Ask your
attorney to clearly explain the nature of the charges against you, the
minimum and maximum punishment, what type of evidence is against you,
how he views your case and the chances of being successful. If you feel
you need clarification, ask the attorney to put their answer in writing.
Call Larry King Law at
757-209-2265 to schedule a
free initial appointment, e-mail us at
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