February 01, 2019
The idea of proceeding to trial in a criminal case, either misdemeanor or felony, seems to be a dying concept in the modern law practice. Prosecutors are overworked as well as their counterparts, the public defenders. Private attorneys, who accept court-appointed cases for indigent defendants, often are too busy with their private clients that proper care and preparation just doesn't take place for the poor. Therefore, the plea bargain has become king even in cases that should be tried.
Thus, the following is a list of questions to ask your lawyer in order to determine whether your case is being properly handled:
- Have you filed for discovery in my case so that I can know what evidence the State or Government has against me?
- Have you reviewed all of the evidence?
- What conflicts exist in the evidence? For example, did one police officer say one thing and another officer say something different?
- Did you get the transcripts from my preliminary hearing? Have you reviewed the transcripts?
- Do witness statements conflict with the sworn testimony of other witnesses?
- Is there any forensic evidence involved in my case? (DNA, Fingerprints, Gunshot Residue, etc.)
- What is your theory of my case?
While I am not saying that every case should go to trial, there are many that should and actually don't. Make sure both you and your lawyer know the strengths and weaknesses of your case. If you do this then you can make an informed decision regarding accepting a plea bargain or taking your case to trial. However, it is important to remember that, if your lawyer has put the time in to know you and your case, you should seriously consider your lawyer's advice. Your lawyer has the training and experience to provide you with the best advice.