Help Your Lawyer Help You

A lawyer can’t help change reality. However, a great defense lawyer can help you navigate critical defenses and timelines. If you want that kind of help, don’t fall into the trap of second guessing and insulting your lawyer.

If you did your research initially and found an experienced local DUI or criminal defense attorney, listen to your attorney. You might not like what he or she has to say (there is a lot of bad news in criminal defense) but it’s much more reliable advice than what you’re getting from your sister’s neighbor’s friend who once took a paralegal class. So, don’t fall prey to those who want to share their legal opinion when they have no legal experience.

Here are some of the most common “challenges” we see from potential clients who are reading or listening to really bad advice:

“this case is so easy, a monkey could do it.” If that’s the case, call the monkey.

If you find a monkey who passed the Bar, can legally practice law, and has a great record with DUI or criminal defense cases, we definitely want to meet that monkey! If you don’t know of a monkey giving legal advice and doing so for free (yep, we’ve even heard that we shouldn’t charge a legal fee because of this brilliant and generous legal monkey) maybe don’t start the conversation by insulting the attorney’s skillset. We do understand that some cases are straightforward and others are complex but they all require work. And, since private lawyers have some of the biggest business overhead, please prepare to pay for the work (we promise we won’t pass the work along to the free legal chimp).

Don't trust a monkey to do your legal work unless he took the Bar. If you want the best legal advice, you need to hire the best local DUI or criminal defense attorney in your area.

So, while your friends may have convinced you that “this should just be dismissed,” (because they know a monkey could do it) remember they didn’t go to law school and didn’t take the Bar. Do they know what a corpus delicti motion is? How about the Rules of Evidence? The Criminal Rules for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction? A 3.6 Motion? Knapstad motion? Conditions of Release? You get the picture. Don’t use non-lawyers for legal advice.

Move on from the shock so you can move to the resolution

Why is this happening? Why is this happening? Why is this happening? Yep, we get that question a lot! It’s understandable in the beginning. Facing a criminal case is shocking. However, once you’re beyond the Arraignment, the train has left the station. Stop focusing on the WHY and get moving on the HOW…how we are going to present the best defense. Staying in the helpless “shocked” phase is irritating to your attorney but, more importantly, it really hurts your case.

Never go “missing” on your lawyer

Don’t change your phone number, email, or mailing address in the middle of your case unless it is absolutely unavoidable. And, if you do, circle back to everyone (and we mean everyone!) several times (like 10) to confirm the change—the DOL, the court, probation, DOL, your attorney, DOL. Did we mention DOL? Forgetting to update your contact information is the easiest way to get a warrant.

Additionally, if you do not have a lawyer monitoring your case for criminal charging (a service we offer), now is not the time for the three week “off the grid” camping trip in the Appalachians. Going missing is how you get warrants. Notices regarding your case are mailed to the last known DOL address. If you don’t get your Summons or notice of your court date, the prosecutor doesn’t care about the reason. You will get a warrant. When you get a warrant, you can forget about any good deals coming your way.

The criminal justice system does not have feelings – it’s a “system”

Don’t “they” care? We hear this question a lot! When people get arrested, they start to realize all of the parts of their lives that are on the line—he job they might lose, the custody battle that might not go their way, the spouse or partner who might leave them, the children who need a parent who can drive, or the family who can’t afford to have a parent or partner in jail. This realization is often overwhelming and the natural tendency is to feel that the burden is too high of a price to pay even if there is truth to the accusations. But, it’s very important for the accused to move on from this concept.

The reality is that law enforcement and prosecutors don’t care. Their retort will be that you brought these problems on yourself. And, the reality is that they can’t really treat you any differently regardless of your circumstances or what you might lose. So, while this isn’t a serious pet peeve for defense lawyers, it can turn into a problem when a client focuses too much on feeling persecuted rather than prosecuted. Again, most defense attorneys completely understand these feelings but it is counterproductive for your attorney to spend too much time counseling you on this non-legal topic.

Further contact with law enforcement

“Hey, this isn’t a big deal but I got a DUI in another county over the weekend.” If you want to give your defense attorney high blood pressure, this is the way to do it. Once you get another criminal charge (or even an infraction in some cases), the prosecutor will REALLY have you on the radar. Not only will this make it tremendously more difficult to negotiate your case, it often means the prosecutor will say “no deal” and force your case to trial or take a plea of guilty.

Since the vast majority of DUI cases have little or no legal challenges, having a new criminal charge is not a good position for a defense attorney or their client. So, if your friend group or family tends to draw the attention of law enforcement more than you would like, take a “pause” on socializing while your case is pending.

If you have questions about these tips, give us a call. Your defense attorney can be your strongest ally if you keep lines of communication open. It’s a pretty brutal process for most folks and the first time they’ve seen how insensitive the criminal justice can be. We understand that shock and frustration but it is critical to keep our clients focused on the future. Success depends on moving forward and listening to experienced advice.

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