Differing expectations is the most likely communication issue when dealing with your attorney. Attorneys are experts at the law, not necessarily customer service. A great way to get off on the right, productive foot is to discuss expectations of communication frequency and content when first retaining counsel. This way all parties know what is expected of each other.
A common problem for federal criminal defendants is gaining access to a phone or e-mail, especially directly following arrest. The best way to handle this situation is to set a plan on when your attorney, or their paralegal, will visit and to supplement these planned visits with letters. While this can feel as though you might not have much control, this is probably as good as it gets from the confines of a jail cell. The key is to ensure that you are communicating effectively with the attorney and imparting the information that he or she needs to know in order to competently represent you.
Connecting with an attorney from jail (or prison, for that matter) can be a headache. If you are having difficulty getting a hold of your attorney it can sometimes be helpful to ask a family member or friend to call or email the attorney and advise that you would like to speak with them.
Tell the truth
The biggest mistake you can make when dealing with your attorney is not telling the truth. If you want your criminal defense attorney to be able to competently represent you, you need to tell him or her the complete, absolute truth. They need to know what happened, when it occurred, the facts of the incident, and your part. This is the person you should tell the complete truth to, regardless of if you are guilty of the offense.
Call a meeting
If you are having concerns about poor communication it is a good idea to call a meeting. Retained federal criminal defense attorneys are paid a lot of money to represent you. With your retainer check comes their attention. Express your concerns in a straightforward and respectful manner. Another good tactic is to clarify your expectations. Merely agreeing to do better isn’t enough. Set something concrete so that both you and your attorney understand what is expected.
Air your concerns
If you have court appointed counsel, you might lack some of the umph from not being the one cutting the checks. Regardless, every federal criminal defendant enjoys the right to competent counsel. This is an absolute right. If an attorney refuses to communicate with you about your case, then their representation has been ineffective, and this is an appealable issue. But this isn’t a stick that should be used from the start. Follow the same advise as presented for those with retained counsel. Federal public defenders are generally very good attorneys. Present your concerns in a rational, responsible manner and they should revise their actions accordingly.
If you’d like more information on how to more effectively communicate with your attorney, Contact us.