Client responsibilities – this is your case – As a criminal defendant charged with a crime, this is YOUR case. While your criminal defense attorney will defend and counsel you through your case, there are certain client responsibilities that you, as the client, will have. For example, it is your responsibility to show up to court on time, to contact your attorney if you forgot your court date, to Google the courthouse address if you need that information, complete tasks / recommendations that your attorney assigns, and complete tasks ordered by a judge. In this blog, we seek to impress upon the reader the importance of being a responsible client and being appropriately involved in one’s own case.
This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense lawyer.
Completing tasks / recommendations
For a variety of reasons, there may be certain tasks or recommendations that you are asked to complete. Typically, either your attorney or the court (or both) will ask you to complete these tasks. These tasks may be necessary either before or after trial, but either way, if your attorney asks you to do something, it is likely important to your case. Take these client responsibilities seriously.
A few basic examples of tasks that a North Carolina criminal lawyer may ask a client to complete include: DWI/DUI assessment, providing attorney with specific documentation or information, community service, completing certain classes, providing the attorney with the names and contact information requested, signing certain documents, taking a gun safety course, and providing attorney with proof of completion.
Once your attorney has asked you to complete a task, it is your responsibly to follow through with said recommendations. It is not a defense attorney’s job to set reminders for you or to try to force you to comply with a recommendation. In fact, a defense attorney cannot force you to do anything. Ever. It is always the client’s choice whether to complete the tasks and is always the client that will suffer the consequences of this decision. Failure to complete a that your attorney has asked you to complete may have adverse consequences of your case, but it is just that – YOUR case, and therefore YOUR decision.
It is also your responsibility to ask your defense attorney any follow up questions that you have or to update your defense attorney if you may be unable to complete the tasks in a time-appropriate manner. This brings us to our final point.
Asking questions, expressing concerns, requesting clarification
In order to get the most out of criminal defense representation, you must communicate with your attorney. If you do not understand something, ask your attorney for clarification. You need to communicate your questions, concerns, and goals with your attorney. The only way for your criminal defense attorney to know that you a have a question or concern is if you present it to them. Never forget – this is your case.