Articles on South Carolina Law

10 Things Clients Need To Know

by | May 4, 2015 | Criminal Defense, Prepare for Court

<p>If you’ve been charged with a crime, you’re understandably upset, anxious…even scared. Your first instinct may be to speak your mind to anyone who will listen. Phone calls and emails with friends and coworkers, and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram become a place to vent your frustration.

Unfortunately, this, among other things, can do your case more harm than good.

You can be certain that your attorney is dedicated to helping you and protecting your rights. But your attorney is not in this alone. There are a few things you can (and should) do to help the process.

Keep a frank, open line of communication with your attorney and only your attorney.

1. Let your attorney know exactly how to reach you

It’s important that your attorney be able to reach you at any time. So make that process quick and easy for your attorney. Let your attorney know which form of communication you prefer, and keep your attorney up-to-date on all of your contact information, including your email address, mailing address all phone numbers and an emergency contact.

2. Consider creating an email account especially for your case

Your case is a very private matter. It’s important that you do not communicate with your attorney using your work email (or work computer) where your employer has access to these confidential messages. Instead, think about creating an email account strictly for your case. With all of your email communications with your attorney in one place, you can easily locate them without sifting through hundreds of messages and spam.

3. Tell your attorney everything

In order to help you and adequately prepare for court, your attorney needs to know all the facts about the case, including the negative. Your attorney can help explain what is and what’s not protected by the attorney-client privilege.

4. Do not discuss your case with others

What you say to the police, the solicitor, alleged victims, the court, your friends, coworkers, relatives and even your spouse does not have the benefit of attorney-client privilege.

Friends and family may ask you about your case or what you talked about in your meeting with your attorney. Refusing to answer is not rude; it can be important to your case. Anything you say to them could be leaked and used against you. And that’s not something you want to have to deal with.

5. Do not get legal advice from non-lawyers

Also, it may be tempting to get advice from a trusted friend or someone who’s been in a similar situation. Your lawyer has a degree in law and is likely more qualified to give you accurate legal advice. Keep legal matters between you and your attorney. Period.

6. Do not discuss your case on social media

Facebook, Twitter and the like are no place to discuss you case. Regardless of how private your social media settings may appear, information from your accounts may be subpoenaed by the court in some situations. This is the case even if your Facebook page is inactive. So before posting, ask yourself two questions:

  1. Would I mind if this showed up on the front page of every newspaper?
  2. Would I mind if the judge/ jury got a copy of this post?

Consider the same for past posts and messages.

7. Stay up-to-date on your case with Attorney Susan E. Williams’ Client Portal

You can easily communicate with attorney Susan E. Williams by logging in to her confidential, web-based software using your email address to create your individualized user id and password. The portal also makes evidence, letters and other relevant information available at your fingertips at any time, and you can even save time by using the system to make payments.

Remember: Impressions are everything, inside and outside the courtroom.

8. Make a good impression before your court date

There may things you can do to make a good impression on the Court.

For example, if you’re being charged with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence), voluntary attendance to AA meetings shows a desire for self-improvement. By the same token, submitting to voluntary drug tests before your date in court for drug charges can demonstrate your ability and willingness to improve. Instead of waiting for a judge telling you to perform community service, seek out opportunities to volunteer for a worthy cause before your court date.

9. Make a good impression in the courtroom

If you’re not a judge or attorney, you’ve probably spent little time in a courtroom. It’s natural to be nervous, afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing. With your freedom possibly at stake, it’s important to be respectful and show the court you care about the judge’s ruling. You’ll be fine if you keep just a few simple pointers in mind:

Look presentable.

  • Wear clean, ironed, neat dress clothes — no shorts or ripped jeans.
  • Stand up and sit up straight.
  • Don’t chew gum.

Avoid creating distractions for the judge or court personnel.

  • Don’t bring children under the age of 8 into the courtroom.
  • Be sure your cell phone is turned off (not just on silent).

Communicate clearly and respectfully:

  • Do not interrupt the judge while she or he is talking.
  • When the judge asks you a question, speak clearly, answering, “Yes, your Honor,” “No, sir,” “No, ma’am,” etc. The court reporter must be able to hear and understand your answer. So don’t simply nod or shake your head.
  • Your case is important. If you do not understand something the judge asks you, don’t be afraid to tell your attorney privately that you don’t understand the question.

Do not believe everything you see on TV.

10. Be patient.

And finally, the legal process takes time. TV dramas like “CSI” and “Law and Order” show the arrest, investigation, DNA evidence, witness statements, negotiations, jury deliberations and trial and verdict of a case all in an hour’s time frame. In real life, there are delays beyond your attorney’s control. Have an open mind and be realistic. Your attorney will work to ensure your case is resolved in a timely manner.

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