If you were recently arrested and charged with a criminal offense, you are undoubtedly concerned about your future. Hopefully, you plan to make the wise decision to hire an experienced Tennessee criminal defense lawyer. If this is the first time you have been charged with a serious criminal offense, you may not know what to expect from your initial meeting with an attorney. Although every attorney-client conference is unique, it is common for a criminal defense attorney to ask a new client a number of pertinent questions, both about the offense involved and about the client’s background and personal life. Some of the questions your criminal defense lawyer asks you might make you feel uncomfortable; however, they are necessary for your attorney to prepare a proper defense for you. In order to better prepare yourself, the following five questions are examples of questions your criminal defense lawyer might need to ask you:
- Have you ever been in trouble with the law before? Do not make the mistake of dismissing this question as unimportant or of leaving something out when you answer. Many criminal offenses can be aggravated and/or the punishments can be increased solely on the basis of the defendant’s previous criminal convictions. This includes a conviction that was later expunged or otherwise supposedly erased from your permanent record. It can also apply to juvenile offenses that are otherwise sealed and unavailable to the public. Both your juvenile history and expunged convictions are available to a prosecutor and could be used against you so do not make the mistake of not divulging their existence to your attorney. Your attorney cannot give you accurate advice, negotiate a favorable plea agreement, nor prepare a winning defense without knowing exactly where things stand with regard to your complete criminal history (or lack thereof).
- Do you have any mental health issues? While your initial reaction to this question may be “none of your business,” keep in mind that it is your attorney’s business. Sometimes, your mental state of mind can provide the foundation for a defense to a crime. If you suffer from a mental illness it may also serve as a mitigating factor, meaning it makes you somewhat less culpable for the crime you committed. Knowing that you have a history of mental illness may be beneficial to your attorney when negotiating a plea agreement or it could be used to convince the prosecuting attorney to allow you to enter into a diversion program.
- Did you have sex with him/her? If so, what kind of sex did you have with the alleged victim? Yes, discussing your sex life with a stranger will be uncomfortable; however, if you are charged with a sexual assault offense your lawyer needs to know whether you did, or did not, engage in sex with the alleged victim. It may also be relevant what kind of sexual conduct you engaged in with the alleged victim. In the vast majority of cases the State will produce physical evidence that sexual conduct occurred, making it crucial that your attorney knows ahead of time that it did. Furthermore, if you engaged in rough sex, and the alleged victim is now claiming it was not consensual, your attorney needs to know about the rough sex in order to explain bruises or other potentially damaging evidence.
- Do you have an alcohol or drug problem? The same explanation for number three applies here. If you have a drug and/or alcohol problem your attorney needs to know as this could be used to help negotiate a better plea agreement or to get you accepted into a diversion program.
- Are there problems in your marriage/relationship? There are a couple of reasons why this might be asked. First, if your spouse is the alleged victim your attorney needs to know if you two have been experiencing marital problems in order to explore a possible motive for the allegations against you. For example, if your spouse is planning to leave you, and wants custody of the children, he/she might fabricate a sexual assault or domestic assault in order to set you up to look bad during the custody battle to come. Also, if your spouse might be a witness on your behalf in the case your attorney needs to know if you two are on good terms or not in order to decide of using your spouse as a witness is a good idea or not.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in the State of Tennessee it is in your best interests to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The criminal defense attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby understand what is at stake and will protect you and your rights throughout the prosecution of your case. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.
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