Client Involvement  | Definitions of Punishment 


Client Involvement

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7. What Information Do I Need To Intelligently Decide Whether To Plead Guilty Or To Make Other Important Decisions?

Before making an important decision in the case, the client is entitled to know what alternatives are reasonable available, and the likely consequences of each. For example, assume that the client is charged with assault with a deadly weapon. The defense attorney tells the client, “The Prosecuting Attorney is willing to accept a guilty plea to simple assault and recommend a sentence of six months in jail and a fine of $500. The decision is yours – what do you want to do?” The client’s response should be, “What are my options and what are the likely consequences of each one.” The client and the attorney should readily identify at least three possible options:

Plead guilty now;
Plead guilty later; or
Refuse to plead guilty and go to trial.

Before making a decision, the client and attorney should discuss the likely consequences of each option. The client may ask questions such as:

“Is there a chance that I’ll get a better deal if I wait until close to the trial to plead guilty?”
“What sentence am I likely to receive if I go to trial and I’m convicted of assault with a deadly weapon?”
“I’m trying to get a job. Do you think a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon will look worse than one for plain assault?”

Criminal defense attorneys do not have a crystal ball. There is no way to predict or guarantee an exact outcome or consequence. The attorney will tell you, based on his experience, what you might expect and offer candid advice. He or she will also give you the best and worst case scenarios. Ultimately, though, it is the client who has to decide which way to go.

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1. Should I Expect My Lawyer To Involve Me In Important Decisions? | 10. What Can I Do To Make Sure My Lawyer Communicates With Me? | 2. How Do I Know Which Decisions Are Important Ones? | 3. Are There Other Decisions That I Should Think About Making? | 4. If It's My Case, Why Can't I Make All The Decisions? | 5. My Lawyer Is Urging Me To Accept A Plea Bargain; I Want To Go To Trial. Who Gets To Make The Decision? | 6. I Want To Propose A Plea Bargain. Does My Lawyer Have To Present It To The Prosecutor? | 7. What Information Do I Need To Intelligently Decide Whether To Plead Guilty Or To Make Other Important Decisions? | 8. My Lawyer Threatened To Withdraw From The Case If I Did Not Follow The Lawyers Advise. Can A Lawyer Do That? | 9. Does My Lawyer Have To Keep Me Informed On My Case? |
Client Involvement  | Definitions of Punishment 


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