PREPARING FOR YOUR FREE CRIMINAL LEGAL CONSULTATION – A Step-by-Step Guide
A free criminal legal consultation is your opportunity to meet the attorney you may be thinking of hiring as well has having them meet you. The goal of a legal consultation should be to have any questions you have answered as well as hear how the attorney expects to attack your specific legal problem. Being prepared for your legal consultation will ensure that you make the most of your free criminal legal consultation.
Things to Bring to the Legal Consultation (if possible):
Bring any documentation you received from the police, the jail or any judge you may have seen. Examples include: a copy of the summons provided by the court, a copy of the citation, jail release paperwork, the search warrant affidavit, vehicle impound sheet, tow sheets or toxicology reports.
By bringing this paperwork the attorney will be able to decipher more about the nature of the criminal investigation. Having these documents available will also provide an opportunity to have them explained to you during your legal consultation.
Photos and/or Videos
Photos and videos after a dramatic event are commonplace in the modern criminal justice atmosphere. Preserving videos from home and business surveillance systems, social media accounts and cell phones is of the utmost importance. Having an attorney review the videos or photos during your legal consultation may help determine their evidentiary value and often helps to better craft possible defenses.
Following an arrest it is important to take an inventory of witnesses that may be able to provide useful information. Police often fail to obtain witness statements or purposefully neglect witnesses that can be used to develop a defense for an arrested suspect. Securing the names, address and a brief statement from witnesses immediately preceding an arrest often serves as an invaluable resource.
Your free criminal legal consultation will provide you an opportunity to share this information with an attorney as well as get advice about what other statements you should obtain.
A List of Questions
Too often potential clients have difficulty remembering all the questions they need to ask during an initial consultation. Writing down any question you or a loved one may have will assist in making the best use of your time with an attorney. For a list of questions, you may find helpful click here.
Medical Marijuana Card (if applicable)
Possessing or using marijuana is felony in Arizona. Using marijuana with an active court case may put you in violation of your release conditions. While having a valid AMMA card will allow you to possess and use medical marijuana while on release, it is a good idea to make sure that your attorney has a copy on file in case it is needed by the court or adult probation.
Other Commonly Asked Questions
1. Can someone be with me during the legal consultation?
Normally, yes. The client has the right to bring anyone they want with them into the consultation provided the attorney is willing to speak to multiple people. There are a few exceptions, however, if the person is a co-defendant or is the victim of the crime to which the client is charged a conflict of interest may have to be evaluated. Before your legal consultation, it is a good idea to discuss who will be with you and their relationship to you and the alleged crime.
2. Do all attorneys offer a free criminal legal consultation?
While most criminal defense attorneys offer a free consultation, some require a small retainer in order to discuss your case, especially if the consultation involves visiting the jail for an in-custody client.
3. What questions should I ask the lawyer?
The questions you should ask a lawyer will depend on the person and the lawyer. That said, there are a few things you should consider when evaluating a lawyer before you make a hiring decision. To see a list of questions to ask a lawyer click here.
4. Is there an obligation to retain the attorney after the legal consultation?
Absolutely not. A consultation is your opportunity to meet the lawyer and discuss legal strategy. It is also an opportunity for the lawyer to meet you and determine is if he or she would like to work with you. Neither side is obligated to the case just because there was a legal consultation.
5. What is the best time in the case to utilize a free criminal legal consultation?
Really you can meet with a lawyer at any time throughout your case. Just because you already have a lawyer (private of publicly appointed) doesn’t mean you can’t discuss your case with another attorney. However, it is normally best to discuss your case at the beginning of the court proceedings so that the lawyer can develop a strategy from beginning to end.