Every person has the constitutional right to remain silent when questioned by the police. Although it may seem that you have nothing to lose by simply telling your side of the story, nothing could be further from the truth. An officer may tell you that you would be helping the police by talking, and they're right -- you're helping the police make a case against you! If you believe you are the subject of an investigation, you should immediately contact an attorney. If a police officer, or anyone connected with law enforcement asks you to answer questions, tell them: "I invoke my right to remain silent, and to have my attorney with me while answering questions." Then give them the name of your attorney. They must respect your request and cease questioning until your attorney is present.
Don't Talk to Anyone
This means your spouse, mother, father, siblings, friends, and anyone who is not your lawyer. Anything you say to your lawyer is confidential, but anything you say to others might come back to hurt you. If you are incarcerated, jails often monitor interactions with family and friends, record phone conversations, and read letters. Even though there are rules of evidence, and laws that may keep these kinds of statements out of court, it's better to be safe than sorry. Always assume that what you say to anyone will be repeated in court, so just don't say anything!
Tell the Whole Truth
You may be nervous, embarrassed, or just don't think things are relevant. It doesn't matter - your attorney needs to know every fact that might help her represent you. Remember, your conversations with your attorney are confidential, and she can't repeat anything you say to her without your permission. Don't let a great defense go unexplored, just because you think your attorney will think less of you for some reason. Defense attorneys have heard it all, and are more concerned with how facts will help you out than what that says about you.
Tell Your Attorney Your Concerns
Whatever they might be - security clearances, embarrassment if this gets back to your friends, job prospects - you need to tell your attorney what you are worried about. Often there are things that can be done to ease your concerns. Your attorney may be able to address some of these without your input, but she can't help you with things she doesn't know about. Tell her everything that you are worried will happen, so she can do her best to prevent those consequences.
Ask Questions When You Don't Understand
There are no stupid questions! If you don't understand what happened in your court hearing, what your defense will be, what you are charged with, or anything at all, just ask! Any attorney much prefers a client who understands what is going on with their case to one who doesn't. Your attorney often can't fix problems after the fact, so make sure you understand what you are signing, saying, or doing before it's too late!
Give Your Attorney the Names and Addresses of Witnesses
Sure, an investigator might be able to track this information down for you, but it's easier and cheaper if you can gather the information of any witnesses before you speak to your attorney. Most jurisdictions have strict requirements on how far in advance witnesses must be supoenaed (required to come to court), so make sure you give your attorney this information well in advance of your court date.
Show Up On Time
Be on time to everything. Meetings with your attorney, meetings with government personnel, and court dates all happen at specific times. Attorneys and government officers are busy, and may not be able to easily reschedule appointments. A missed court date may result in you losing your case, and possibly in being re-arrested and spending more time in jail. If you know you are going to be late, call ahead, and tell the truth about why you are late. It will help you in the end to call as soon as you know you will be late, even if you know this hours ahead of time!
Keep In Contact
Always update your attorney on changes to your phone number or mailing address. Things such as your court date and time may have to be changed, and your attorney must be able to reach you if that happens. It also doesn't hurt to phone your attorney if you haven't spoken in a while. Just a quick update about where your case is can do wonders for your confidence in your case and your attorney. If you have doubts about your attorney's ability to keep in touch, or feel she is not doing an adequate job, you need to know this as soon as possible. Waiting until the day before you go to court to talk won't help you or your attorney. So just call every so often to say hi!
Understand She Has Other Clients
But, remember that your attorney has many clients. You only have the one case, so of course it's always on the front of your mind. Your attorney, on the other hand, has many clients and cases going at once. There's only so much work and time she can spend on yours, before she's exhausted all the options, and must move on to something else. Be patient with your attorney, and she will likely be better able to represent you!