If you or a family member have been accused of a crime, one of the first things you’ll want to do is meet with a criminal defense attorney. This initial consultation provides an opportunity to discuss your case in confidence and get expert legal advice on your options. Here’s an overview of what you can expect from this important first meeting:
Getting the Ball Rolling
The first meeting with your criminal defense lawyer sets your legal representation in motion. This is when you’ll sign paperwork to officially retain the attorney’s services for your criminal case. The attorney-client privilege also takes effect at this point, so you can speak openly without worrying that anything you say will be shared with prosecutors or anyone else.
Once retained, your Las Vegas defense attorney can start reviewing your case and using their expertise to map out an overall legal strategy. They’ll request relevant documents like the arrest report, search warrants, and any other court documents. The lawyer can also initiate the discovery process to obtain evidence collected by law enforcement and prosecutors.
Providing Case Details
A major part of the initial consultation will involve you providing details about your criminal charges and the circumstances leading up to your arrest. The attorney will ask you to explain – in your own words – what happened. Be completely honest, even if you don’t think certain facts help your case. It’s critical for your defense lawyer to have the full story from your perspective.
Your candor allows the attorney to offer informed legal advice. They can point out any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, as well as any strengths or defenses that could be used on your behalf. The lawyer can also advise you on whether it may be in your best interest to accept a plea bargain or take your case to trial.
Getting Your Questions Answered
In addition to explaining your side of the story, the initial meeting provides an opportunity to get answers to important legal questions on your mind. A knowledgeable criminal lawyer can address your concerns about potential penalties if convicted, impacts on your employment, immigration status issues, and realistic outcomes in similar cases.
You’ll also want to find out whether bail can be arranged to get released from jail while your case proceeds. The defense attorney can walk you through factors that influence bail decisions, along with options like using a bail bondsman.
Other key questions for your lawyer may include:
- How strong is the prosecution’s case against you?
- What are possible defense strategies you could pursue?
- What damages or losses could you be facing if found guilty?
- Is there anything you should be doing right now to help your case?
Understanding Logistics and Fees
It’s also important to discuss practical and financial considerations during your first meeting. Find out how the attorney bills for their services and what their upfront retainer fee will be. You’ll also want to review payment options if the total costs end up exceeding the initial retainer amount.
Logistics are also key. Be sure to ask the lawyer how frequently they’ll provide case updates. Find out their preferred communication methods and the best ways to reach them with additional questions. It’s also wise to inquire about who else in the law firm may be working on your case and representing you in court.
Assessing Specialized Experience
Not all criminal defense attorneys have the same background and credentials. When meeting with a lawyer for the first time, don’t hesitate to ask about their overall experience with cases like yours as well as their specific track record dealing with similar charges and circumstances.
For instance, if you’re facing drug crime accusations, it makes sense to retain an attorney with extensive knowledge defending state and federal drug possession or trafficking cases. Those facing domestic violence charges may want to seek out a lawyer with specialized experience getting those types of cases dismissed or reduced.
Don’t assume all criminal defense lawyers are equally equipped to mount the strongest possible defense for your particular situation. Focus on choosing legal counsel with proven experience handling your type of criminal case.
Establishing Trust and Comfort Level
At the end of the initial consultation, you’ll obviously want to consider logistical factors like the attorney’s availability, billing practices, and background. But your gut feelings also deserve weight in your final decision.
Keep in mind you’ll be putting your trust in this professional and relying on their judgement and skills to avoid conviction and sentencing. Make sure you feel fully comfortable with the lawyer’s commitment to your case and their ability to be a zealous advocate on your behalf.
If you don’t completely click with a prospective attorney after your first meeting, it’s fine to set up consultations with additional lawyers before making your selection. The stakes are high, so take your time choosing who to entrust with your defense.
Next Steps After Selecting Your Attorney
Once you’ve chosen a criminal defense lawyer from Benjamin Durham Law Firm, they’ll get to work immediately requesting evidence and documents to begin reviewing the details of your case. Your attorney will keep you informed of progress and let you know if they need any additional information.
It’s critical to follow your lawyer’s advice closely in terms of what to do (and what not to do) as your case proceeds. This could involve providing witness names, staying off social media, and avoiding certain actions that could negatively impact your case.
While every case has its own unique aspects, you’ll be off to the strongest possible start by using your first meeting to find an attorney you trust and understand the road ahead. With an experienced criminal defense lawyer guiding you, you’ll be able to navigate the complex criminal justice system and work toward the best possible outcome.