If you have recently been charged with a criminal offense in California and this is your first time dealing with the criminal justice system you are likely scared, confused, worried, and possibly frustrated. These are all perfectly normal responses to been charged with a crime. Since this likely means that you have never worked with a criminal defense attorney before you may also have a number of questions regarding the relationship you will have with your attorney. One common question that clients have is “How often do lawyers contact their clients?” There is no universal answer to that question; however, a better understanding of the prosecution of a criminal case will give you a better idea of when to expect contact from your attorney.
Your first contact with your attorney should come right after your arrest. If you are released on bail and you will meet your attorney at his or her office. If not, then your attorney will consult with you inside the jail. At this time you will discuss preliminary matters such as the charges against you, your version of events, and the possibility of reducing the bond that was set for your release if you are still incarcerated.
Once your attorney has filed an appearance in your case the prosecutor is required to produce discovery to your attorney. Discovery refers to the evidence that the state has against you in your case. Depending on the severity of the charges against you, the discovery process can take weeks, even months, to complete. During this time, your attorney is analyzing and evaluating the information received from the state as well as investigating and researching for your defense. Although it may be frustrating not to hear much from your attorney during this time period that does not mean that nothing is happening on your case. On the contrary, your attorney is working hard behind the scenes. Once your attorney has a clear picture of the state’s case against you the two of you will likely need to meet again to discuss your options.
At this point in the process you and your attorney will likely need to decide if you wish to negotiate a plea agreement or proceed to trial. If you decide to consider a plea agreement, your attorney will begin negotiations with the prosecutor in an attempt to procure an agreement that is favorable to you. If you decide that you wish a trial, then you and your attorney will begin preparations for the trial. Trial preparation will typically have you working very closely with your attorney in the weeks leading up to the trial.
As you can see, much of what your attorney does is done behind the scenes. Keep in mind that your attorney’s job is to defend you. To do that, your attorney will spend a considerable amount of time analyzing, evaluating and researching your case. While this may not include a considerable amount of contact with you it is all vital to your defense. Of course, if you have questions or concerns regarding your case you should always feel free to contact your attorney at any time.
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