If you have criminal charges pending against you it probably has you feeling overwhelmed. You may feel that your future is uncertain, and you worry about what will happen to your relationships, your family, your pets, your job, your home, and your property if you go to jail.

Getting a skilled, experienced, knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is absolutely essential in order to ensure that your rights are protected, and you have the best outcome possible for your case.

A defense lawyer will explain the procedures of the criminal court system to you. They will advocate for you and help you every step along the way. Their job is to make sure that your constitutional rights are not violated and that your case turns out the best way possible.

So, when you go for your initial consultation, there are some things that you need to do to make sure your attorney has everything he or she needs to represent you. This is also a time for you to ask questions.

The time to hire a criminal defense attorney is as soon as you are arrested. Here is what you need to know and how to prepare for it.

Don’t discuss your case with others or post about it on social media.

Discussing your case, especially publishing it in a public forum like social media, can do serious damage to your case. You should start doing this before you even have your consultation.

Don’t share any details about the event, including your arrest, any charges that are pending against you, court proceedings, or any aspect of your case. You should also avoid commenting or “liking” posts, pages, or apps. Don’t “check in” anywhere either. In short, taking a social media break during this time may be one of the smartest things that you do.

And don’t think that setting your social media setting to private will protect you. Anyone on your friends list, including friends, family, and acquaintances can easily screenshot your posts, comments, or other activity – don’t think they won’t. Many people have been shocked because whom they trusted implicitly broke that trust by sharing screenshots or even going to the authorities.

Add to that, criminal investigators and prosecutors are very good at searching social media sites and gathering information that they believe will help their case.

It just isn’t worth it. Staying off social media is your best bet.

Your Attorney will need the following information.

A chronological narrative of the incident, including what happened before, during, and after the incident occurred. Make sure that you include as many details as you can – specific details are important such as:

  • Dates
  • Times
  • Addresses 
  • Vehicle makes and models
  • Descriptions of people
  • Description of surroundings like yards, rooms, etc.
  • The weather
  • Weapon types

Everything is potentially important so don’t leave anything out.

Your attorney will also need a list of people who were present when the crime was committed, including their full names and their description and what they said or did. 

If anyone was injured, including you, make sure to describe the location and nature of injury.

Providing a detailed description of the arrest is also important, including:

  • When did the police get there?
  • How did the police approach? Calmly? Aggressively?
  • What did the police say before, during, or after your arrest?
  • Did the police present any documentation or show you any documentation at any point during your arrest?

Gather information and documents that are related to your case.

The more information you can give your attorney, the better. Gather as much information as you can think of including:

  • Driver’s license or state issued ID
  • Full name, address, phone number, email
  • Written information about your personal background
  • Resume or written information about your professional background
  • Documents showing any previous arrests or convictions
  • Police reports about other incidents even if you weren’t arrested
  • Hospital records – Mental health and physical health
  • Doctor’s statements about mental and/or physical health
  • Medical history for both mental and physical health
  • Indictments
  • Felony or misdemeanor complaints that involve you
  • Restraining order information both by you and against you
  • Bail paperwork
  • Any paperwork about property search
  • Notice of your next court date and any related details
  • Evidence that may be helpful
    • Voicemails
    • Photos
    • Invoices
    • Emails
    • Letters
    • Written statements
    • Texts
    • Documents
    • Videos 

Make a list of any witnesses who may help your case.

Give your attorney a list of any witnesses who can help your case as well as those who could damage your case. Provide as much information about them as possible, including:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Place of employment
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Your relationship with them
  • Type of evidence they may have for you or against you

Write down questions that you want to ask your attorney.

When you are going to talk to your attorney for the first time you probably have some questions for them. You may be a little nervous at that first meeting so it’s a good idea to jot down some questions that you may have. Here are some good ones to start with:

  • Will you be the attorney handling my case or will it be someone else in your practice?
  • How long have you been a criminal law attorney?
  • Do you have any experience with cases like mine?
  • What have been the outcomes for other cases you’ve handled that were like mine?
  • How often do your cases go to trial?
  • What is your defense strategy for my case?
  • What strengths and weaknesses do you see in my case?
  • What penalties do my charges carry?
  • Is there a chance that the charges against me could be dropped?
  • What options do I have for defense?
  • Do I have any potential plea bargains?
  • How long does a case like mine usually take?
  • How do you prefer to communicate about my case?
  • What are your rates?
  • What are my costs and fees above your rates?

Take some pride in your appearance.

You don’t have to necessarily dress in a three-piece suit but do take some pride in your appearance. Look and dress professional when you meet with your attorney.

Try to wear something other than a band t-shirt and ripped jeans. 

What’s more, you will need to dress to impress when you go to court. It is always a good idea to look your best when you go before the judge. It shows respect and reverence for the situation.

Don’t bring anyone with you to your consultation.

When you are going to that initial consultation it may be tempting to bring someone along “for moral support.” You may want them there and they may want to be there, but it isn’t a good idea for your consultation. This needs to be your time to talk in private with your attorney so that you can freely share anything you need to help your case. Having another person there can prevent that free flow of information and can also result in you waiving your attorney-client privilege. 

They could be a distraction while you are meeting with your attorney. Many times, well-meaning friends and family members will inject their ideas and suggestions, interrupting a conversation that should be between you and your attorney – and no one else.

By jumping in and adding details they can confuse you and your attorney, especially if the information is incorrect or in addition to what you have already provided. This can be frustrating for all parties and actually hinder your case. If they do have valid information about your case, give your attorney their information and let him or her reach out and get what they need.

And finally, that person’s presence could cause you to be inhibited and reluctant to share information with your lawyer that may be more confidential or sensitive. You need to be able to speak freely so that your attorney can get the information necessary to build your defense. You don’t need to have someone in the room with you who causes you to clam up and leave out vital parts of your story because you are afraid of how they will react to the information.

The best thing you can do is ask them to stay home or stay in the car while you go in. It is best for your case and for you.

Plan to do something you enjoy after you meet with your attorney.

Meeting with your attorney can be pretty intense. You may leave with a flood of conflicting emotions. You may feel worried about the outcome or going through all that information may bring up old wounds that haven’t quite healed. You may feel relieved because you finally have representation you can trust but dredging up the details of your case may leave you feeling depressed or angry. It can also cause you to feel overwhelmed and like you have no control over your life – and that’s a scary feeling.

Be kind to yourself. Do something nice for yourself after you leave your meeting. Take yourself to lunch, go shopping, meet a friend for lunch, or go have coffee and dessert with someone special. In other words, so something that makes you happy. Taking deliberate steps to practice self-care can go a long way in helping you feel more positive and less stressed. This will help you be more relaxed so that you can properly prepare for your next court date. It also relieves tension that may cause you to be irritated or even aggressive. You can be more relaxed so that when your court date arrives you can be the best version of yourself.

When you are looking for a criminal defense attorney who has the knowledge, skills, and experience to handle your case, look no further than The Litvak Law Firm. Mr. Litvak has a proven track record representing clients in federal court as well as the New York State court system.

Put The Litvak Law Firm to work for you. Call today at (718) 989-2908 for your free consultation and start the process of getting the legal representation that you deserve. Don’t wait to see what will happen or see if things will work out, get a criminal defense attorney right away. The sooner, the better. Your future depends on it.