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Courtroom tips that matter

This is another one of those blogs that shouldn’t have to be written, but after the last couple days in court, it clearly does. Spending every weekday in court, I get to see and conduct a lot of hearings. All kinds. Anything from preliminary hearings to petition for post conviction relief. After months of watching other attorney’s clients during hearings, I realize that people just don’t know how to act in their own best interest. I cannot emphasize enough, you have to be your own best advocate! I am your attorney, I will do everything in my power and under the law to defend you and your rights, but I cannot dress you, and I cannot make you behave in court. The judge sees it, the district attorney sees it, everyone sees it, and it is hurting you! What, specifically, am I talking about?

I was watching a preliminary hearing where the victim accused her boyfriend of assaulting her. Throughout the entire direct examination of the victim (this is when the state puts their witness on the stand asking them questions so they can tell their story), the defendant was scoffing out loud at almost every statement. He shook his head so much and for so long I found it amazing that he could even stand up without falling over. He tried to talk at least three times during the testimony. When he was told to be quiet, he would tell his attorney that she was lying (he literally said it after every other word that came out of the victim’s mouth). The most amazing part of this entire show was that his attorney never said a word to him.

Before every hearing, I sit down with my client and go over what they need to do and not do during the hearing. Here is what I tell them:

  1. Do not react to anything the witnesses say,
    1. Do not scoff,
    2. Do not shake your head,
    3. Do not even acknowledge that they are in the courtroom.
  1. If you have any questions, write them down (I always provide my client with paper and a pen), if I can and should ask them I will,
  2. Do not talk to the witness,
  3. Do not talk to the judge, and
  4. If you have trouble with any of this, just look forward,

Remember, the judge is the one who rules on all the objection, decides how much leniency I get with my lines of questioning, determines whether there is probable cause to bind a case over, and determines whether to increase or lower a bond. Most people wouldn’t want to annoy the judge or make them mad and hurt their chances of a favorable outcome. But that is exactly what will happen for being disrespectful.

You have THE RIGHT to remain silent!

freeEver wonder why the police are required to start with “You have the right to remain silent?”  BECAUSE YOU DO!!!

If you could be in trouble, you should refuse to answer any questions regarding a crime you are suspected of committing; leave the talking to your lawyer.

You do not have to speak to the police. In fact, speaking to the police can only hurt you. 

You literally do not have to answer any questions the police ask! The best answer you can give is, “Respectfully officer, I do not have to answer that question.

If you feel the need to respond, respond with: “Am I free to leave?” Ask that after every question the officer asks.

 

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How to Deal With Police

You have the right against unreasonable search and seizures.

You have the right to not be harassed by the police.

There is one thing you can count on: The police will lie to you. They will intimidate you into consenting to a search and/or making a statement that will be used against you. Do you know how to protect those rights?  Do you know how to prevent the police from violating your privacy?

This blog-series is going to teach you how to handle police interactions, within your legal rights, and how to protect your rights regardless of how intimidating the police are.

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