I saw it again the other morning in court – a young kid whose lawyer was paying little more than lip service in protecting his right to a fair and speedy trial. The truth is most people accused of a crime are treated like criminals, regardless of the fact the law is supposed to presume innocence. A judge in a case I was trying in Wyoming once told the jury that nobody in his courtroom was guilty of anything as the trial began. “Nobody. Not that young man at the table by his lawyer Mr. Peterson, not that prosecutor. Not you and not me. In this courtroom everyone starts out innocent, and it takes real evidence to find somebody guilty. You jurors will make that decision only after the trial has been submitted to you.”
He was right. If you are accused of a crime you are just that, accused. Not guilty.
So here are three things you can do to help your lawyers build your case and prepare for trial.
First, tell the lawyers the whole story. We say the “whole truth,” and we mean it. Some clients are guilty and they are better served by telling the truth sooner rather than later. A lot of time and money is spent chasing down a story that is not completely true.
Second, trust your lawyer or get a new one. If you can’t get along with the lawyer you chose, choose again, but do it quickly. The things you tell your lawyer are privileged so be open and expect the same from the lawyer. Expect the lawyer to deliver both good and bad news. People pay for our advice, so accept it as that. Advice. Then choose your best course of action, trusting that lawyer to get you the best possible result.
Finally, if you are going to trial understand the process so that you can stay informed of the deadlines the case presents. We always need to know names and contact information for people you think might help us tell your story. Get us that information as soon as possible, and stay in touch with us. That will help us stay in touch with you and your case. Hold us accountable to keep you up to date on the case as we all get ready for trial.