Being accused of a crime is a frightening experience for the uninitiated. Every step of the way there is something new and intimidating that happens from having the handcuffs placed on you to hearing the cell door shut after arriving at the jail. If you have never before need the services of a criminal defense attorney, that relationship can also be a bit overwhelming an confusing. It can even feel as though your attorney is not on your side sometimes. For example, you may wonder why your criminal defense attorney keeps asking you the same questions over and over again. There are actually several good explanations.
The Attorney-Client Relationship
First, it may help to gain a better understanding of the relationship between a criminal defense attorney and a client. All too often, clients remain extremely skeptical and even suspicious of their defense attorney. While they may be understandable, it is also very counter-productive. It is important, therefore, to understand the nature of your relationship with your attorney from the start. Your criminal defense attorney is bound by a number of ethical rules found in the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct. Those rules require your defense attorney to defend you to the best of his/her ability without regard to your guilt or innocence. Furthermore, those rules address the confidential nature of your relationship with your attorney. Except in very narrow circumstances (such as if you threaten to harm someone), your attorney cannot divulge anything you discuss nor any of the details of your case or defense with anyone else unless you consent. It is important to keep this in mind when meeting with your attorney.
Questions, Questions, and More Questions
Every criminal defense attorney has his or her own unique method of handling client meetings and developing defense strategies; however, one thing they all have in common is the need for information. Although you may notice that your attorney never directly asks you if you are guilty, you may be asked a seemingly endless number of other questions. Moreover, it may seem like your criminal defense attorney asks you the same questions, or similar versions of the same questions, several times. Your attorney may even circle back to the same questions months later during a future meeting. Although this may seem annoying or frustrating, there is likely a good reason for the repetitive questioning.
One reason is the fact that criminal defense attorneys are accustomed to clients not telling them the entire truth the first time they ask a question. Not knowing the entire truth, however, puts your attorney at a potentially fatal disadvantage when it comes to preparing your case for trial. Therefore, your attorney may ask you essentially the same question several times in an attempt to get every little detail out of you because that missing detail could cripple your defense in the middle of a trial.
The other critically important reason for asking you the same question over and over again is to gauge how you will hold up against cross-examination if you take the stand at trial. The prosecuting attorney will come at you from every angle trying to get you to say something you shouldn’t or simply to get you to react in a way that makes the jury dislike or distrust you. Often, a defendant’s emotional response when on the stand is far more important to the jury than his/her actual answers to questions. If you anger easily on the stand, and you are charged with a violent crime, you can almost count on a guilty verdict. Your attorney needs to know how you will handle repetitive questions that seem like accusations because that is how the prosecuting attorney will likely come at you at trial.
While it may seem frustrating, your criminal attorney has a reason for asking the questions he/she asks and for repeating those questions as often as necessary.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have additional questions or concerns about criminal law in general, or about your case specifically, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.