being arrested, dealing with police and sitting in jail, you probably thought the rest of the process would be less stressful.
Then you learned that finding the right lawyer and coping with him during the pretrial process is more difficult than you
imagined. Possibly your friends and family are treating you differently now. The author is a seasoned criminal
defense lawyer who has written this article from his vast experience to guide you while you are coping with your lawyer,
family and friends.
The single most important question
you can ask yourself after being interviewed by a lawyer is, "Can I talk to him like a brother?" "When
it comes to me opening up my life to someone, would it be him?" Of course, you need to find out how many cases
he has handled and what his background is. If he does divorces and injury cases along with an occasional criminal case,
you should keep looking. You need a lawyer who has been dedicated to representing criminal defendants in tough cases
over a long period of time. What is he saying to you about your case and your defense?
Do a Google
search and read the websites of 10 to 20 attorneys in your area. Don't be fooled by their sales pitch. Narrow
your selection down based on his credentials and the cases he has won. If he is a speaker or author in the field of
criminal defense or if he is active in the Criminal Defense Lawyers Bar Association you can feel more confident. Does
he claim that if you pay $20,000 you will definitely get off? Beware! The Bar doesn't permit lawyers to give
any guaranties. If he guaranties anything, move on to an ethical lawyer. Know this: a lawyer who is careful to
say and do things that are legal and moral and ethical and professional has the best chance of winning your case for you.
Selecting a lawyer is an important task for you early on in your case. As soon as you can after your
arrest, talk to your family about hiring a good lawyer who concentrates his practice on defending people who have been charged
with crimes. That lawyer must have solid experience in trial and in being a good negotiator. Once you select your
lawyer, you will be asked to read and sign a retainer agreement. Don't proceed without a written agreement.
Read it thoroughly before you sign it. Ask questions so you understand all of the terms. Keep a copy for yourself
and open a file to keep all of your important case documents.
Your lawyer will work immediately on a
bond hearing if you need one. To be successful, he must be a good negotiator and know the law. Your lawyer will
also start investigating the facts with a private investigator. He will get all available documents and evidence and
determine who the witnesses are. He will obtain statements or take depositions of witnesses. While he is working
for you, he is also working for many other clients. Give him time and give him space. Remember to tell him everything
you know about your case and the people, places and things involved.
Take the time to start a
journal or notebook on your case. Write down everything you can remember about the day of the incident and the arrest.
Fill the pages with names, facts, thoughts and ideas about your case. When you complete it give it to your lawyer.
This will be very helpful to the lawyer and investigator. It will be a huge benefit for deposition preparation and for
Your family may be angry with you having been arrested and charged with a crime. They may treat you
differently. Perhaps they didn't know how you were living, who your friends were or where you were going on your
time out of the house. Keep in mind that your family wants you to succeed. Other people out there couldn't
care less about you. But your family loves you and wants you to do well. No one is closer to you than your family.
Your current circumstances have caused a strain in this relationship. But with their love and your desire to make
things better, your whole family will be drawn closer together. You need a good team in your corner to get through this
tough time of your life.
It is ultimately your constitutional rights that are at stake here. Whether
or not you go to trial is your decision to make. Whether or not you testify at trial is your decision to make. All
of your rights under the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States are yours alone to decide upon.
However, your family is very important to your success at all of the trial stages. They will keep you connected
and supported. Don't get so angry at yourself that you refuse to talk about these things with your family.
Select one family member who is the most level-headed. Let him or her be the spokesperson with
your lawyer if you are finding it difficult to communicate regarding your retainer agreement, attorney fees and expenses.
If you need their help, use them effectively. Just remember this: never talk to them about the evidence, the charges
or the investigation. You don't need them to know things that might make them a witness for the State. This
is your case and you need to make the key decisions, but working together in this way can bring strength to the defense.
Friends come and friends go.
Most of these, however, are really just acquaintances. These people will simply fall into the background as your case
progresses. These "friends" may have done or said things that caused your arrest. In some cases, friends
become co-defendants. If so they may try to influence you in order to help their case. They might tell you to
lie for them or they might even testify against you.
During the pretrial process and the jury
trial, your lawyer and the entire Defense Team are the primary social group and network that you are involved with.
Support them, encourage them, and be accountable and responsible to them.
Determine what to do with
your life. Figure out what you want to do and where you want to go in life. It is a time for soul searching.
It's time to take control of your life and stop letting situations control you. Prioritize! What is it that
really matters most to you?
When your life gets on track again after your case is over, you may look
back at it and realize that this was a worthwhile, life-changing experience. You will change. You just might embrace
the American Dream and apply its promise of success to your own life. Do you know what the American Dream is?
Every person from whatever prior circumstances who sets goals and then works hard to achieve them can become whatever they
want to be. The American Dream lives within you. When you find your dream and passionately pursue it, the American
Dream will work for you, too.
For more helpful information on success strategies for a person charged with
a crime, contact
Ira Still, Esquire
Info Blog: http://istilldefendliberty.blogspot.com/
Ira Still has been a criminal defense trial lawyer in Florida for over 30 years. He successfully
represents his clients on all crimes and in all courts. Ira has had many, many jury trials and is well known in Miami
and Ft. Lauderdale as a very successful trial and appellate lawyer. He has argued death penalty collateral appeals in the
Florida Supreme Court and in various District Courts of Appeal. He has filed briefs in the United States Supreme Court.
Ira has tried high profile cases such as police shooting the wrong person; persons charged with shooting police; capital murder
and capital sexual battery; violent crimes; drug trafficking; and virtually every other criminal charge. Ira is also
an author, speaker, teacher, mentor and coach.
© 2009. The Law Offices of Ira Still