It is normal to be concerned when you are charged with a crime. There are many consequences that can impact your employment, housing, driving privileges, and much more. Unfortunately, this kind of intense stress can make people oddly unproductive and uncooperative with their attorney.
Don’t Get “stuck” On Labels
Often, clients are insistent with their defense lawyers that they need to prove to the judge that they’re upstanding citizens and aren’t “criminals” like everyone else in the courtroom. They aren’t necessarily arguing “innocence” but, instead, are stuck in this notion of not being labeled a criminal. Funny thing is that 1 in 3 adult Americans have a criminal record so the “criminal” label isn’t that concerning to most of us in the courtroom. Lawmakers in the United States have over-criminalized behavior to the point of absurdity. So, sorry about your label. Join the crowd!
No One Cares You Are An Eagle Scout
Unfortunately, defense attorneys get a little irritated with clients who continually insist on a platform to discuss their good deeds. It’s not that the attorney doesn’t understand but it’s simply not possible and the attorney doesn’t want to explain that repeatedly. As noted above, there is no formal period in the case, with the exception of sentencing (if you are found guilty) that you get to present all of your wonderful deeds and accomplishments. The protocol is not intended to punish you. The idea is that the justice system is blind to “character” because we don’t want to convict people because they might be jerks (or have criminal records) and we don’t dismiss cases because the defendant is a Nobel Prize winner. The justice system is supposed to be unbiased. We all know it isn’t but that’s the idea.
Arguing With Your Attorney Is Not Productive
Sometimes, clients just won’t stop arguing that they want to tell their story and will not accept court procedure and evidence rules as an explanation. It certainly creates tension when an attorney has a client who can’t understand the rules of criminal procedure and keeps arguing about this topic. If this is you, please stop for your own good.
You might be experiencing an overwhelming amount of anxiety (again, this is normal) and that requires attention from a mental health professional. Make sure you are dealing with any mental health issues or triggers so that you and your lawyer can work productively together. An attorney is not equipped to diagnose or manage a client’s untreated anxiety or depression so it’s important that the client is seeking all the help needed (legal and mental/emotional) to avoid self-sabotage.
If You Are “telling Your Story” You Have Probably Been Convicted
If you hired an experienced criminal defense lawyer, he or she knows when to talk about your good qualities—it’s not during Arraignment or a Pre-Trial hearing. In fact, the only time YOU are able to present your character is after you’ve been convicted or plead guilty. That’s not great news if you’re really insisting on talking to the judge or prosecutor. You are allowed to speak about yourself (which should include how sorry you are) during sentencing because you’re hoping to convince the judge to “go easy” on your jail or prison term.
The Impersonal Nature of The Justice System
So, realize your attorney isn’t judging you. The judge and prosecutor mostly likely don’t care about your good or bad deeds. You are one of thousands of criminally charged folks who will enter the courtroom that year. Leave it to your attorney to weave in everything that is RELEVANT to working out a resolution. A prosecutor has very limited time and, if your lawyer gets the prosecutor’s attention, realize the attorney knows exactly what facts need to be concisely conveyed to get your case dismissed or resolved in the best possible way.
Prosecutors around the country resolve cases differently. While the law is the law, realize you have humans interpreting the law and you have some courts providing options like therapeutic courts that address underlying causes of criminal conduct. So, find an experienced defense attorney in the LOCAL area where you were charged to guide you through your best options.
Shame Is Not Productive
Don’t beat yourself up about whether people see you as a “criminal” because you’re probably the one being toughest on yourself. Just find a great defense attorney and get the best resolution for your situation. Move on with your life in a positive way.
If you have a case in Kitsap County, Bremerton, Poulsbo, Silverdale, Port Orchard, or Bainbridge Island, we’re available to help 7 days a week to help. www.WittLegal.com