These questions are designed to help you determine whether your lawyer
is doing what they are supposed to be doing to gather information and
prepare to advise you to plea or go to trial:
If you are involved in a criminal case you should monitor your lawyer's
progress. It is important to see not only if your lawyer is doing their
job but also it is important for you to be involved in your case. An informed
client makes better decisions about their life and their future! If you
find that your lawyer is not doing his/her job, knowing this will help
you prod them into action or give you motivation to seek other counsel.
In the early stages of your case it is important to gather information
and develop a case strategy. You should ask the following questions:
- Have you gotten all of the police reports, audio and videotapes of witness
statements, and other “discovery” from the district attorney’s office?
- After ensuring that the attorney has reviewed everything ask him how the
evidence looks? What is the bad evidence? What are the weak spots in their
case? Do we need to do any investigation to clear up or develop evidence
that would help?
- After you have a clear understanding of the case against you ask the attorney
what he advises you do? Should I plead? Should I go to trial? Should I
go to preliminary hearing? Why?
- Once you have determined your general goal ask your attorney what his strategy
is for attaining that goal. When does he expect to make a deal? Is there
anything needed to be done before that date to help make the deal happen?
- Sometimes the preliminary hearing is a good place to air out the evidence
and show the prosecution that their case is weaker than they think. Are
we going to do that? Is it better to waive prelim so the record won’t
show how bad the facts are for us?
- Sometimes the deals are better before the prelim and sometimes the deals
are better after the prelim. This can be a factor of which judge will
preside over the different settlement conferences. Where does your attorney
recommend that you plead and why?
- If you decide to plea, ask your attorney what his goal is for your sentencing.
Am I going to have a psychological evaluation? Are you going to need letters
from friends and employers? What can I do to help you get ready for sentencing?
- Ask your lawyer what sentencing alternatives are available. Can I get work
furlough? Can I do community service? Do you think the judge would consider
a drug rehabilitation program?
- Once you plead you will be interviewed by the probation officer. Ask your
attorney how you should handle the interview with the probation officer.
Should you discuss the facts of the case with him? Is there anything about
my life that you think I should tell him? What kind of attitude show I
have when I interview with him? What should I wear? How are my hair and
my general appearance?
- If you go to a sentencing hearing, ask your attorney what his plan is for
the hearing. What is the judge like who is going to sentence me? Are you
going to submit a written sentencing memorandum? Are you going to call
any witnesses? Why or why not? Who does he want to have present? Does
he want me to speak? What should I say?