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George Kokorelis

Preparing to Meet Your Lawyer

The criminal justice system is usually a very scary thing for anyone in the crosshairs of a prosecutor, which makes it only more imperative to be represented by a good lawyer. One way to improve your chances of getting the best lawyer is to be prepared for your first meeting. Otherwise, it can be a big waste of time for both you and the lawyer. First impressions mean a lot, and being unprepared may result in the lawyer not wanting to represent you.

A criminal defense lawyer will want to know who you are and how you can be contacted. The lawyer may also ask for a personal business background. He or she will clearly want to understand your situation. Thus, you need to write down anything that you consider relevant background information and have it available for the lawyer. Also bring along any documents that you have like: any documents you received from the court showing charges and next court appearance date: your bail papers; if your property was searched. any paperwork the police left; and any documents you think are important to the case for the lawyer to review. If you can get a copy of the police report that will really assist the attorney.

Sometimes, a lawyer may also try to facilitate the information gathering process by sending you a questionnaire to fill out in advance. If this happens. be sure to fill out the questionnaire and send it in to the lawyer’s office before the meeting. Also send along copies of any available documents that may he requested in the questionnaire.

Some criminal attorneys will ask you to describe the events which occurred. Some will ask you to describe what the police are alleging that you did, before going into the events as you saw them. Criminal actions frequently involve very different events from the perspectives of the police and the defendant.

Before you get too far into meeting or conversation, the lawyer is going to want to know about possible conflicts of interest. You should bring a list of other employees who may he witnesses or defendants. You should also bring any information that you have. If the lawyer or the lawyer’s firm represents anyone on the other side of the fence. he or she will have a conflict and will usually not be able to represent you.

Prepare a list of questions to take with you or to your first meeting. You have to feel comfortable with your attorney. Remember that your lawyer is working for you. You want someone who is skilled, but you also have to get along with your lawyer. In theory. no question is too silly to ask. Keep in mind that you do not want to scare a lawyer out of representing you.

Questions you might ask a lawyer would include:

  • What would the lawyer like to see in order to evaluate your case?
  • What might your other options he?
  • How many similar cases he or she handled?
  • What percent of his or her practice is in the area of expertise that you need?
  • Does the lawyer usually represent employers or employees?
  • What problems does the lawyer foresee with you case?
  • How would the lawyer go about handling your situation? What is the process, including the different stages. arraignment, filing of motions, motions hearing, disposition conference, trial?
  • How long will it take to bring the matter to a conclusion?
  • Does the lawyer ever plea bargain? All the time”Never” Either of those answers could be a problem. Some cases likely should be plea bargained. Other cases likely should go to trial.
  • How would the lawyer charge for his or her services?
  • Will the lawyer accept a payment agreement for the services that extends beyond the representation?
  • Would the lawyer handle the case personally or would it be passed on to some other lawyer in the firm? If other lawyers or staff may do some of the work, could you meet them?