A Former Prosecutor’s Do’s and Dont’s When Interacting With Police and the Court System

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This is a guide from the perspective of an experienced former prosecutor to explain to you in a straight-forward, common sense manner how to obtain the best results with your criminal case from your interactions with police, lawyers, sheriffs to coming to the courtroom and beyond sentencing.
INITIAL CONTACT WITH THE POLICE
Every criminal or traffic case begins with a police encounter from a simple traffic ticket to the most serious felonies but the same rules still apply. Most people may not recognize that their initial interaction with the police can largely shape the entire criminal case against them going forward. Always maintain a polite and non-aggressive attitude and demeanor with the police. Police are trained to recognize and control confrontations at all costs. Realize that police officers are human beings with emotions regardless of however strict or even confrontational they may appear to you. The key to remember here is NO PERSON WINS A CONFRONTATION WITH POLICE IN THE SHORT OR LONG RUN. The police determine what to charge you with or what to recommend to the prosecutors. The police will document in their reports your demeanor, attitude, their opinions of what happened including EVERYTHING you say. Please keep in mind the police will largely shape and influence your case from the beginning to the end. While you should request an attorney in all misdemeanor and felony situations do so in a respectful manner and do not make admissions to anything that may come back to haunt you later.

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR ATTORNEY OR A PROSECUTOR

The success of your attorney in court has alot to do with you. Once you have hired an attorney you should tell your attorney every relevant fact concerning your case including how you were stopped or arrested, what potential witnesses there may be to the incident, what you told the police and what the police said to you, and your personal traffic and criminal history. Armed with this information your attorney will be in a position of strength when speaking to a Prosecutor even before the Prosecutor has given your attorney the police reports concerning your case. If you have an attorney you should not be speaking to a Prosecutor but perhaps your attorney is running late or a Prosecutor may ask you who you are in court. You should always remain polite and professional in even these minimal interactions as there is no need to give a Prosecutor a reason to have a negative impression of you that sets you apart from other defendants on the court call in a negative way. Please be polite.

INTERACTING WITH JUDGES IN COURT

Perhaps the most important player in the criminal court process the judge may determine what evidence is heard in your case, whether you are found innocent or guilty, and what your potential sentence is. If you are to appear in court you should dress as formal and appropriate as possible. As a rule I would recommend wearing clothes you would wear to a funeral. The judge will be observing your dress and conduct in court and dressing appropriately demonstrates your respect for the court and that you care about your case. Your conduct in court is equally important. While you are sitting in court waiting for your case to be called turn off your cell phone, don’t read anything, talk, laugh, create distractions, or fall asleep in court. When your case is called let your attorney do the talking because the court reporter writes down everything that everyone says and your statements can come back to haunt you in later court proceedings. Only speak if the judge speaks to you directly.

INTERACTING WITH COURTHOUSE SECURITY, SHERIFFS, PROBATION OFFICERS, AND OTHER COURT PERSONNEL

People start forming impressions the second you walk into a courthouse. The deputies at the entrance may tell you you have to bring your pocketknife, camera phone or nail file back to your car after you waited in line for twenty minutes to get up there. Do not argue with these deputies as they have direct contact with the Prosecutors as well as the deputies in your courtroom. Bring in only essential items and stay polite. Sheriffs in the courtroom also may reprimand you for talking, sleeping, reading, cell phones, etc. and it is important to maintain your cool with them. Many work with the same Judge and Prosecutor every day and they are respected for protecting the courtroom staff, thus there is no need to cause them to speak against you to Judge or others. Probation or Compliance officers are paid to report to the Judge and Prosecutor your progress and status. Be polite as their words very often mean the difference between you being in jail, prison or free during your sentence.

I hope you enjoyed this informative post. Please contact the Richard Albanese Law Office for more information on your case today at (312) 882-1973 or at http://www.criminalandtrafficdefenseattorney.com

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