Thursday, September 27, 2012

How to Help your Criminal Defense Lawyer

How To Help Your Criminal Defense Lawyer Once You Have Hired One
by H. Manuel Hernandez
Once you have hired a criminal defense lawyer that you trust and feel comfortable with, you should provide him or her with copies of all documents related to your case, including the charging documents or any other documents you feel can assist the lawyer, and all other information that may assist in preparing the defense.  This includes any documents you feel might hurt your defense.  The attorney-client relationship is not a game of "hide-and seek," "20 questions," or  "truth or dare." the client must be honest and forthcoming with their criminal defense lawyer.  Put simply, you need to give your lawyer everything that might impact your case in any way, "the good, the bad, and the ugly."  Many times a client will not know exactly what these documents and information are.  So the client should error on the side of caution, and give everything to their lawyer and let the lawyer decide what will be helpful, and what will not.  
One thing I ask every client to do is to prepare a short biography explaining who they are, where they grew up, where they went to school, how far in school did they get, their work history, and their family history.  If there is significant health issues, the client should include them in this biography as well. I then ask my clients to provide me with a brief written synopsis of what happened in their case, from the beginning to the end.  Even if the client has explained everything already during a face-to face meeting, I ask the client to sit down, take their time, look at their own calendars and other personal documents, consult with heir spouses and friends if they need to refresh their own memories, and provide me with their  best recollection of what happened.  Client always remember new things even after they leave their lawyer's office and have had time to think about their case when they are alone.  Again, it is critical that the lawyer get as much information as possible from the person who should be his or her best source of information, the client.  
In order to protect the attorney-client confidentiality privilege, the client should put the following advisement on the top of every page containing a communication to their attorney:
This will not guarantee that what the client writes may not wind up in the wrong hands and that it may be used for the wrong purposes.  However, it gives the client's criminal defense lawyer a fighting chance to exclude anything contained in a document that was obviously meant to be a privileged attorney-client communication should the document wind up in the hands of law enforcement, for example if law enforcement finds it on the client during an arrest or search, or on the client's computer.  So, this advisement should be at the top of everything the client writes to his or her lawyer. Everything! 
The client should keep in regular contact with their lawyer, and update their lawyer if anything new should occur to them, or if any new information or documents should be discovered.  Like all relationships, the attorney-client relationship will thrive best when there is good communications between the client and the lawyer.  

H. Manuel Hernandez has been practicing criminal law for 32 years, the first 10 years as a federal prosecutor, and the last 22 years as a criminal defense attorney. He is dual Board Certified by the Florida Bar as a Criminal Trial Specialist and a Criminal Appellate Specialist by the Florida Bar. He is also Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy as a Criminal Trial Advocate. Mr. Hernández has been rated "AV" in the distinguished Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, the highest rating available in this highly respected legal directory relied on by attorneys when looking for other attorneys to refer cases to or to work with in different areas of the law.

For more information please call the office of attorney H. Manuel Hernández, P.A. 407-682-5553


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