You must take the charges seriously if you are arrested for committing a crime in Arizona—even if it is a misdemeanor. If you are convicted, you face harsh punishments and would have to live with the long-term consequences of a criminal conviction on your record.
You need to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately after your arrest to mount an aggressive defense strategy against your charges. But you cannot leave all the work of defending yourself to your attorney.
You and your attorney are a team working to achieve the best possible outcome in your criminal case. Here are 10 important ways you can help them to defend you.
#1: Always Be Honest
You need to be honest when discussing your case with your criminal defense lawyer. When they ask you questions, you should give them truthful and thorough answers. Your discussions with your attorney are protected by the attorney-client privilege.
Being honest will help them determine what defenses you have and how to obtain the evidence and witness testimony you need to support your defenses. If you are not being truthful, they cannot fully evaluate what could happen in your criminal case. In addition, if they discover surprises down the road due to your lack of honesty, this could weaken the defense strategy they are working on for you.
#2: Discuss Your Goals
After your lawyer has reviewed the circumstances surrounding your arrest and the evidence the prosecution has against you, they can explain the defenses that will work best in your defense and the possible outcomes in your criminal case. Once you know more about what to expect in your case, you need to let your attorney know what your goals are.
For example, if you are willing to accept a plea bargain, you need to tell them this. They will have a different strategy to achieve a favorable plea agreement than if they know you only want to take your case to a jury trial.
#3: Find Out the Costs
It is important to understand how you will have to pay attorney fees for your defense and to inform your lawyer what you can afford to pay. You also need to know whether they will need to conduct depositions or hire expert witnesses as part of their defense strategy, which can be expensive.
#4: Don’t Talk to the Police
You should exercise your right to remain silent and not talk to the police unless your lawyer agrees to this and is present during the discussions. The police will be looking for any information you give them that can help prosecute you and use your statements against you in court.
#5: Provide Your Lawyer With Requested Information Promptly
Your attorney will need the contact information for witnesses and other information or documents that can help in your defense. Provide this information to them as soon as possible after they ask for it. Witness memories can fade, and evidence that can help you could be lost if you delay getting information to your lawyer. This could make it harder for them to effectively defend you.
#6: Stay in Touch With Your Attorney
You need to provide your lawyer with your contact information so they can keep you informed on the status of your criminal case and can obtain the information they need from you to defend you. While you should not contact your lawyer on a daily basis, it is important to keep in regular communication with them so you know the progress they are making in your case and the best ways you can help them.
#7: Be on Time for Court Hearings
You need to be on time for scheduled court hearings. The best way to do this is to arrive at the courthouse early.
You will make the judge and prosecutor angry if you are late for court hearings or fail to attend them. This could make it more difficult for your lawyer to negotiate a favorable plea agreement or get the judge to be lenient when sentencing you if you are convicted.
#8: Dress Appropriately for Court
When you are in court, you need to make a good impression on the judge. Dress appropriately in clothes you would wear to a social event or job interview. Do not wear tee shirts, blue jeans, or sweatpants to your hearings. In addition, be respectful when talking to the judge or prosecutor.
#9: Stay Off Social Media
A crucial way you can help your lawyer is to stay off social media until your criminal case is resolved. You will make their job harder if you post on social media. At a minimum, do not talk about your criminal case on these sites. The prosecutor and police will search your sites multiple times for statements or photos they can use to convict you.
#10: Follow Your Attorney’s Advice
The best way to help your lawyer is to listen to them and follow their advice. They are looking out for your best interests and are trying to develop a strong defense for you. You can help them achieve these goals by following any advice they give you.
Are you facing criminal charges in Flagstaff or Northern Arizona? Our skilled criminal defense lawyers are here to mount an aggressive defense for you. Contact our office or call us at 928-226-0165 to schedule a free initial consultation to learn how we can help you and what you can expect in your criminal case.