Do you have a legal problem? Perhaps you were charged with drinking and driving in San Diego. Maybe the police accused you of having an illegal substance. Regardless of what the problem is, you may be overwhelmed about what to do. Many people are unsure about what to expect at the first meeting with an attorney.
Many people feel embarrassed when they are charged with a crime. A criminal law attorney is not there to judge you; his job is to help you. The overarching rule is to be honest with your attorney. Tell the attorney everything about the incident.
At the initial meeting, the attorney will want to determine what legal jeopardy you face. That begins with the charges the police or an individual filed against you. A closely related question is whether you have any prior convictions. Prior history is a factor in determining what sentence the court can impose. The attorney will also want to know the details of what happened. Be honest, remembering the attorney is there to help you.
The next question, what is the client’s goal, given the circumstances? There are four different paths a case can take. They are the following; dismissal, plea bargain, deferred prosecution, and trial.
Whether the client is charged with a felony or misdemeanor, the attorney wants to make an assessment of the path the case will likely take. This can be an on-going process as the attorney and client gain more information. In some cases, the attorney and client can set realistic expectations at the first meeting. For example, if the charge is simple assault and only two people were present, then it is going to be relatively easy to obtain a great deal of the information on the first visit. In that case, the client and the attorney can discuss whether it is best to go to trial, enter a plea or if deferred prosecution is a possibility. Also, some cases just get dismissed.
The attorney may talk with you about the possibility of a plea agreement. In a plea agreement the defendant typically pleads to a lesser charge than was originally charged and receives a less harsh penalty. A special type of plea agreement is a deferred prosecution. In deferred prosecution the defendant agrees to stay on good behavior, and sometimes the defendant has to do community service or restitution. The district attorney then dismisses the charges once the defendant has complied with the deferred prosecution agreement.
Frequently misdemeanor cases are dropped. This depends on the type of case, the strength of evidence and the resolve of the person who filed the complaint. Simple assault is a common charge. If the accused has a clean record a simple assault charge seems major to the accused, and it is. If the accused is on probation, a simple assault charge can lead to revocation of probation. A good experienced attorney understands both situations. However, the legal system as a whole views simple assault as a minor problem. An experienced Encinitas criminal attorney knows that people often file charges when they are upset. After their anger passes, they just do not want to be bothered. Emotions often run high in such cases. The attorney will help their client put the matter in perspective and caution the client to be calm. Like a summer storm that does no damage, your problem may just go away. However, without the attorney to follow up with the district attorney and prepare a defense for you, a problem can occur.
Instead of a simple misdemeanor, a client that is charged with a complex and serious felony can expect some differences in the first meeting with the attorney. The attorney will still want to hear everything the client has to say about the case. The attorney will want to know if a client has any prior convictions. In a complex case the attorney will need time to develop a plan. The reason it takes longer to develop a strategy or goal in felony cases is because there is typically more evidence to review. Also, a formal discovery process exists. The state has to let the defense know what evidence the state has against the defendant, and the attorney will not have access to this information at the first meeting.
The attorney will probably discuss with you the best way to resolve felony charges. Just as in misdemeanor cases, plea agreements are often an option. If you are charged with a felony, your attorney may be able to get a plea agreement in which you plead to the lesser charge of a misdemeanor. The attorney can explore this option with you. Also, the pros and cons of going to trial may be considered. An experienced attorney will typically know how the district attorney treats cases similar to yours. Next, as previously mentioned, the attorney will need time to evaluate the evidence before a sound strategy and plan can be determined.
Encinitas criminal lawyer Ashby Sorensen may be reached at 858-999-6921.