What You Should Expect From Your Criminal Defense Attorney:

April 4, 2014

Not all attorneys are the same, and we all seem to have found our own way of representing our clients. While it is true that you – as the defendant and client – are best served by retaining an attorney with whom you can work on both a professional and personal level, there are some minimum requirements and services that we at Catalano & Carpenter LLP believe all defense attorneys should provide to their clients in every case:
1) Answer your questions
At a minimum, your criminal defense attorney should answer your questions to the best of his or her ability, not only during the initial consultation but as your questions arise during the course of your representation, as well. 
We may not be able to provide an answer to every question you may have as soon as you ask it, but we make every effort to provide answers to those questions within a reasonable time. Keep in mind, however, that it is our responsibility as your attorneys to be truthful with you, so you may not necessarily like or approve of the answers we give you!
2) Negotiate with the Prosecutor
Skillful negotiation with the prosecutor is how the vast majority of criminal cases get resolved, so don’t take this aspect of your representation lightly. These discussions can be extremely prejudicial to the client if the defense attorney doesn’t know or understand the law, sentencing requirements and civil consequences, how to address deficiencies in the People’s case with the prosecutor, or when to keep those deficiencies quiet entirely and save it for trial!  While in many cases there may be a typical road-map for dealing with the prosecutor, often times those negotiations require a “seat of your pants” approach by your attorney with strategy and information changing on an almost daily basis.  Unfortunately, that often means that the process comes across as mysterious to the client, or that the attorney is just not keeping the client informed.
Having practiced extensively in criminal law for a combined career of over 30 years, we know criminal law and we are not hesitant to negotiate and share our opinions with prosecutors in an effort to reduce the charges pending against you.  We are also fully aware of the stress a criminal charge can cause and how that stress can be amplified by being in the dark about your case. For that reason, we do our best to keep you informed as to the status of your case and, to the extent possible, how any discussions/negotiations with the prosecutor may be going.
3) Develop a strategy for your case
Your attorney should anticipate that your case (and every other case they have) will eventually proceed to trial and he or she should begin preparing for that possibility immediately. This not only provides the opportunity for stronger negotiations, but it also requires that the client and attorney think about viable defenses together from the very inception of the attorney-client relationship. 
Whenever possible we evaluate all relevant defense theories at the initial consultation and continue to refine and develop an appropriate defense strategy through ongoing communication with our clients during the course of the representation.
4) Guide you through the system
Regardless of your criminal history, the criminal justice system can be very confusing and stressful. 
To the extent possible, we prepare my clients in advance for every court appearance to ensure they know what to expect in the hope of minimizing any unnecessary stress for them. And in those situations where we anticipate that there may be unavoidable stress for our client, we prepare them for that, too. Regular client communication is always critical.
5) Manage client expectations
Client stress is also properly managed where there have been no unattainable promises made or false hopes created. It is imperative for efficient and effective client communication that the client truly understands the case against them, the pros and cons, and doesn’t expect the impossible from his or her attorney. Unfortunately, not every case can result in an acquittal. Realistic expectations from the client can therefore make or break an attorney-client relationship. 
For that reason, we will always give our clients our honest opinions and assessments of each case. Regardless of whether or not it’s what the client wants to hear, it is always what the client needs to hear.
There is already too much to risk when facing a criminal charge. Don’t risk even more by hiring an attorney who does not have enough respect for his or her clients to at least provide these fundamental services.  If you are facing criminal charges in the Hudson Valley or New York State, call Catalano & Carpenter LLP at (845) 454-1919 to schedule a free initial consultation today. You have rights not only as a defendant, but as a client, too. Fight for them.