Your Most Critical Relationship
If you are being prosecuted for a crime, particularly a serious crime, your relationship with your criminal defense lawyer may well be the most important in your life. He not only represents you, he represents your only realistic avenue to an acquittal, a favorable plea bargain or an outright dismissal. As hard as he may work, whether or not he succeeds in rescuing you from the abyss is, in many ways, up to you.
For your lawyer to best represent you, he requires your assistance and full cooperation. After all, no lawyer can maximize your chances before a jury, negotiate a plea bargain, or even properly investigate the circumstances that resulted in your being charged without your assistance.
What Do I Tell My Cambridge Criminal Lawyer?
Don’t misinform your Doctor nor your Lawyer.
Ethical obligations present a dilemma of sorts for lawyers, especially criminal defense lawyers. We can only exercise our best judgment on behalf of our clients if we know the truth. At the same time, we are not permitted to present a defense at trial or make a statement to the Court that we know to be dishonest. To a client dreading a lengthy prison term, this ethical conundrum might be reason enough to withhold the truth. A client might sensibly ask himself, “What possible good can come from disclosing the truth if it constrains my lawyer’s ability to fully represent me at trial?” But, a more enlightened client might ask himself, “Is it better to tell my lawyer the truth so that he might properly prepare my defense, or let him find out at my trial, after he is ensnared by his earlier strategic decisions?” We ask our clients to tell us the truth, just as every other successful law firm does.
No Falsifying Evidence
Occasionally, clients believe they can outsmart the criminal justice system by producing false evidence. Photoshopping photographs, creating false Facebook entries or pages, doctoring emails and texts, and manipulating hard evidence is a recipe for disaster. Never knowingly provide your criminal defense lawyer with falsified evidence. If he learns before the hearing or trial that you have attempted to hoodwink him, he will likely never trust you again and will likely refuse to represent you further. Worse, by allowing him to submit the evidence to the court that is ultimately discredited, you will have needlessly inflicted a fatal blow to your defense. A criminal defense lawyer can accomplish nothing on your behalf once his trustworthiness is compromised. Finally, manipulating evidence is a crime. If you are caught trying to interfere with the administration of justice, you can expect the judge to severely punish you.
Attorney/Client: A Professional Relationship
Though society appears to be sliding toward informality, recognizing, cultivating, and maintaining the professional nature of the attorney/client relationship is critical to its success. The attorney is, after all, engaged in the serious work of rescuing the client from difficult if not dire circumstances. In fact, so serious is this undertaking that the attorney cannot afford to be diverted or distracted from his mission. Observing basic formalities underscores the sacred trust between the lawyer and the client, the gravity of the professional service being rendered, and the professional distance between the lawyer and client. Formalities do not impede professional relationships, they enhance them.
At the Mahoney Criminal Defense Group, we address our clients as “Mr.,” “Ms.,” or “Mrs.” We rarely address our clients by their first names, at least not until the case is concluded and only after being invited to do so. We ask, in return, that our clients extend us the same courtesy. Unless your attorney asks you to do otherwise, address him/her by “Mr.” or “Ms.” He will likely be impressed by such a classy gesture. That will get the relationship off to a great start.
Contacting Your Criminal Defense Attorney
With advent of the internet, email, and cell phones, we enjoy unprecedented access to one another. As we have become accustomed to such access, we have lost much of our sense of boundaries. Because professionals can now be reached by cell phone or email 24 hours a day, we may be tempted to contact them — especially attorneys — after hours or on weekends. Successfully defending individuals is hard, often stressful work. Lawyers, like other professionals, require down time to replenish their reserves. Unless it’s an emergency, if you need to speak with your attorney, contact him during his regular business hours. Trust us, he will appreciate it and likely be more receptive to your concerns and more responsive to your needs.
Keep Your Emotions in Check
Those accused of crimes are understandably unnerved by the enormity of the stakes. For the individual who is accused of a serious crime, the possibility of incarceration in a maximum security prison is frightening. For the professional or student accused of a relatively minor crime, the possibility of a career derailing criminal record may be nearly as unnerving. Since anger and anxiety are two sides of the same coin, clients often alternate between indignation and pleas for reassurance.
Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.
When meeting or speaking with your attorney, give him a detailed, truthful account of the circumstances that led to the charges. Resist the temptation to express your indignation, anger, or anxiety to him as you answer his questions. A lawyer, after all, is not a therapist. He will speak to five to ten clients a day. If each one of his clients insisted on venting his feelings to him, he would emotionally exhausted and have precious little left to fight for them. It’s in your best interests to have the man or woman you are counting on feeling emotionally strong, indeed indomitable, as he marches into court.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.
Your lawyer can best help you if he understands the facts and he will best grasp the nuances of the circumstances if you calmly answer his questions. If you have strong feelings about your case or the charges, express them to a friend or a therapist. Your criminal defense attorney will appreciate it and, more than likely, have the energy to work even harder on your behalf.
Contact a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are accused of a crime, such as domestic violence, murder, sex crimes, drug offenses, or OUI call us at 617-492-0055. Kevin J. Mahoney is an experienced, aggressive, and honest Cambridge criminal defense attorney who will work with you to win your case.