Monday, February 17, 2014

What Your Criminal Defense Lawyer Should Do to Represent You
By H. Manuel Hernandez
In previous posts I have discussed how to go about hiring a criminal defense lawyer, and things the client should do to assist the criminal defense lawyer in representing the client. Here, I will discuss what the criminal defense lawyer should be doing while representing someone under investigation or charged with a crime.  Of course, each case is different.  What a criminal defense lawyer should be doing varies greatly depending on the type of case, whether the case in in the investigatory (e.g., grand jury) stage, or charges have already been filed. Someone under investigation for, or charged with, a major securities or Medicare fraud matter or capital murder for example, will need far different representation than someone charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, trespassing, or shoplifting.  However, whatever the charge is, the criminal defense lawyer must understand that it  is the most important case in the world for the client, requiring all the attention necessary to insure the best result possible under the facts and the law.  The focus of this post is not the details of the substantive work a criminal defense counsel should be doing in different types of case, but rather, a general overview of the what a criminal defense lawyer should be doing to let the client know what is happening with their case or investigation.
The criminal defense lawyer needs to maintain good communications with the client.  This means the criminal defense lawyer should spend the time necessary to familiarize himself or herself with the client's case, the charges or potential charges if the client is still under investigation, the potential penalties if the client is convicted, and potential collateral consequences, such as, for example, the impact on a client's immigration status if the client is not a U.S. citizen, see, Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. , 130 S.Ct. 1473, 176 L.Ed.2d 284 (2010)(U.S. Supreme Court finding that it was ineffective assistance f counsel for a criminal defense lawyer not to advise a non-citizen client of the mandatory deportation consequence of pleading guilty), suspension of driver's license, registration as a sex offender in cases involving sex crimes and child pornography.
Also,  according to recent decisions by the U. S. Supreme Court, it is now clear that the criminal defense lawyer must communicate all plea offers made by the prosecutor to the client, see Missouri v. Frye,___ U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 1399, 182 L.Ed.2d 379 (2012), and must provide competent advice to the client about whether to accept or reject the offer, see, Lafler v. Cooper, U.S., ___ U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 1376, 182 L.Ed.2d 398 (2012) and Padilla v. Kentucky, supra. Most competent criminal defense lawyers were doing this well before the Supreme Court said it is required.  Criminal defense lawyers should also provide the client with copies of all pleadings, motions and court orders filed in the client's case, including pleadings and motions filed by the prosecutor.  In sum, the criminal defense lawyer should  keep the client aware of all important communications and events occurring in the client's case.

While the criminal defense lawyer should, and based on recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, has an ethical obligation to do these things, the client should remember that although their case is the most important case in the world to them, it is usually the only case the client has to deal with.  Most criminal defense lawyers have many cases they are responsible for, and often, the criminal defense lawyer spends a great deal of his or her time addressing urgent matters in one case or another that need immediate attention.  As such, the client should keep in regular touch with his or her criminal defense lawyer to insure that everything is getting done, and that the client is aware of everything happening in their case.  Of course this does not mean that the client should be constantly calling his or her criminal defense lawyer, or make unreasonable demands.  Most criminal defense lawyers should have no problem answering client's questions, and updating the client on what is going on with their case, and should welcome the client's input as the case proceeds.

H. Manuel Hernández has been practicing criminal law for over 30 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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