“Preparation, before anything else, is the key to success”.
–Alexander Graham Bell.
If you have been charged with operating under the influence ( OUI) or any other crime, you must begin to prepare to defend yourself immediately. You must also prepare properly and thoroughly. Choosing the right lawyer to defend you is the first step. Shop around, do some research. The first step of proper and thorough preparation is completely in your hands.
You will be assigned an initial court date by the arresting officer or a bail commissioner. You should begin your preparation prior to that date by consulting one or more criminal defense attorneys. Those consultations are often free of charge (as they are with me). In any number of criminal cases, and virtually all OUI cases, your lawyer must take steps to prepare your case and protect your rights BEFORE that initial court date.
Prepare yourself for meetings with attorneys by writing down a list of questions. Be prepared to listen to what the attorney(s) have to tell you. The purpose of the initial consultation is for the attorney to give you information. The folks with whom I meet, after listening to the information that I provide, 99% of the time tell me that I have answered all of their questions during my initial presentation.
After each initial consultation, you must ask yourself a question: Is that lawyer prepared to defend me?
After you choose an attorney, your job is not done. You must work with your attorney to prepare your case. A good criminal defense attorney is not going to give you odds or a guarantee on the outcome after your initial consultation. Do not hire an attorney who makes those kinds of representations. Those attorneys, by implication, are not likely to do anything further to defend you after they receive their fee. Those attorneys figure that their job is done.
You and your attorney must continue to prepare. The road to proper preparation is a byway. The paths are often parallel and you, along with your attorney, must prepare for both. The first path is destined to obtain the best-possible offer from the prosecutor. That allows you to make a well-informed decision whether to accept the best negotiated disposition or to reject that offer and proceed to trial. If you reject the state’s best offer, you and your attorney must be prepared to have a trial in your case. It is TOO LATE if you all have waited to contemplate the state’s best offer to begin trial preparation.
Although over 90% of criminal cases are resolve without trials, you and your attorney must be prepared for that contingency. Remember, preparation must begin immediately following your arrest. Following your initial appearance, you and your attorney will review discovery ( the state’s evidence ranging from police reports to witness statements, scientific tests, DVDs, and the like) as well as information that you provide (the state does not get to see the defense evidence except for expert testimony and alibi witness identification). You and your attorney together will prepare your defense. That preparation includes gearing to negotiate with the prosecutor to get you the best-possible offer (reduced charges, filing, deferment , dismissal, etc.) as well as your team being prepared to have a trial if negotiations reach an impasse .
Prepare yourself to defend yourself by calling me for your free consultation at NICHOLS & CHURCHILL 207-879-4000.
Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide general, not specific, information about Maine law. The publication of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship between the author(s) and the reader(s).