Top 5 Tips to Help Your Criminal Lawyer

Happy Friday, everybody hope you had a great week and are gearing up for a fun weekend. This week I wanted to do a video where I talk about the top five things that you can do to help me as your lawyer. Now, I’m trying to make this advice as universal as possible so even if I’m not your lawyer, you’re going with somebody else or you’re represented by somebody else, these five things should still help you and really more importantly, help your lawyer to do a better job on your behalf.

So let’s start with number five. So the number five on the list is ask questions. A lot of people don’t really have a problem with this, but some people think that, “Well I’m bothering them.” Or, “I’m annoying them.” Or, “I’m taking up too much of their time.” Just get that out of your head, especially if I’m the one representing you. I want you to ask questions. I want to encourage those questions because I need to know when we get to a stage in the case where we’re either entering a plea or we’re in front of a judge and you’re under oath, I need to know that you fully understand what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and that you don’t have any reservations out there about that. So ask questions as they come up.

Next. Number four on the list is keep an open mind. A lot of times when I’m representing folks I’m trying to get very creative with resolution options because ultimately, now in some cases it’s the case has to get dismissed or you need an equivalent trial and that’s it, and I get those. And in some cases, that’s it. There’s no wiggle room. There’s no room for any other type of negotiation. And then if that’s your case, then that’s fine. However, in other cases, a lot of times where I’m able to do my most effective work is when I can create an effective resolution that can keep prosecutors satisfied and happy while also serving the best interests of my client.

And so in order for that to work, the only way it does is if you as the client has an open mind so that when I approach you with, “Hey, what if we do this? Or what if we do this other thing?” If you kind of close the door on that and immediately say, “I’m never going to do that. I’m never going to take that class. I’m never going to take anger management because I don’t need it. I’m never going to go to rehab because I don’t need it. I’m never going to go to AA because I don’t need it.” If you have that closed mind, it shuts off an opportunity I might otherwise have to convince the prosecutor to go a direction that I want them to go. So always keep an open mind, especially when we’re talking resolution options. Ultimately, it’s your call. You get to tell me yes or no, but at least hear out the proposal before you reject it out of hand.

Number three, and this is a big one. Be on time. What I mean by that is to appointments with me, to court appearances, to meetings with probation, you have to, have to, have to, be on time. When you’re meeting with me, or any lawyer, generally speaking we have set aside a certain window of time that is going to be yours and yours alone. I’m not going to take calls from other clients when I’m in the room with you. 03:25I’m not going to work on other cases when I’m in the room with you. I have set aside that time for you.

Likewise, I set aside time for other clients in other slots during the day. And so I might have a limited amount of time in which you and I can sit down and really hash out what we need to hash out. And so if you’re not on time to those meetings, you’re just kind of hurting bring yourself because we don’t have that full amount of time to talk. More importantly than me though, much more importantly than me, is being on time to court. Because remember at the end of the day the judge is going to be the ultimate decision maker in what happens in your case. Even if we have a plea agreement with the state, the judge has every right to reject that offer or to add conditions to that plea offer. He will do that if he has reason to believe that you’re not taking things seriously or that you are in need of additional supervision. And a lot of times being late to court will cause a judge to think that way. Moreover, it could cause the judge to revoke your bond, to hold your bond insufficient, now a new warrant has been placed for your arrest and all kinds of bad things happen. So be on time.

Number two, this is a big one. Stop smoking weed. It’s one of those things that should go without saying, but especially if you are being charged with any type of drug offense or any type of alcohol offense, you can bet, especially in places like Collin and Denton county, that at some point during that process, you’re going to be tested for marijuana, whether that’s when you’re placed on probation, whether that’s when you’re looking to get accepted into a diversion program, or more importantly, there has been plenty of times when I’ve negotiated with the district attorney that, “Look, if my client passes a drug test today, will you dismiss this case?” And I’ve had that offer on the table. There is nothing worse than having that offer on the table and not being able to take it because the client can’t pass a drug test. So you have to stop smoking weed while the case is pending. It’s still illegal in Texas, regardless of your feelings on marijuana, while a criminal case is pending, that is a huge thing you can do to help me, because again, it just opens more doors to what I can do and what I can negotiate with.

Finally, number one, and I’ve done a full video on this. So I’m not going to spend too much time, but be honest with your lawyer. Be honest with me, because I say this all the time, I can protect you from what I know. I can’t protect you from what I don’t. So going back to what number two was, was stop smoking weed, if you don’t or if you can’t or if you smoked last night, I need to know that. I need to know that right away, because if I go to court and I know in my head, “He won’t pass a drug test today.” Or “She won’t pass a drug test today.” Then I know I can avoid that as a negotiation tactic, and I can blame myself for that and be like, “Look, we’re not going to enter into any negotiations today. I just got a lot going on.” Or I can find a way to navigate that landmine without throwing you under the bus. That’s my job. That’s my job is to protect you. And I can’t protect you if I don’t know what’s going on. So be honest with your lawyer. That’s the number one rule. It’s just that simple.

So as always, if you have any questions about this or anything else, shoot me an email, give my office a call. I’m happy to set up some time to consult with you or answer any questions that you have. And other than that, I hope you have a great weekend. And I look forward to seeing you guys all next week.

Author Bio

James P. Whalen

James P. Whalen is the managing attorney and founder of Whalen Law Office, a Texas criminal defense firm offering personalized legal representation for various federal criminal charges. With a commitment to providing comfort and guidance during challenging times, Mr. Whalen serves as both an attorney and counselor to his clients, helping them navigate their cases while striving to restore normalcy to their lives.

In an inherently unbalanced criminal justice system, Mr. Whalen takes on cases with unwavering dedication. With decades of legal experience, he offers representation across various criminal charges, including white-collar crimes, violent crimes, drug charges, and more. Mr. Whalen’s numerous accolades, including Super Lawyer recognition and board certification in Criminal Appellate Law and Criminal Law, reflect his unwavering commitment to ethical and high-quality legal representation.

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