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What A Defendant Needs To Know And Do
If you have been arrested or investigated by the police, you face the possibility of becoming a criminal defendant. There are a few things that you need to do at that time.

They are as follows:

Immediately inform the police of your right to remain silent. Do not answer any questions. Do not deny the allegations, do not admit them. Just inform the police that they can direct any questions they have to your attorney. (See additional article entitled "Why a suspect Should Never Talk to the Police");

Select the right lawyer (see additional article, entitled "Investigating and Selecting a Criminal Defense Lawyer");

Keep your lawyer informed as to your whereabouts, and cooperate with him and his investigator, for purposes of information gathering;

Obey all court orders, and especially make sure that you avoid being charged with other offenses, even simple traffic tickets.

Be on time for court. You should arrive at court at least fifteen minutes early for every court appearance which you are required to attend. Do not take this instruction lightly. Your attorney may happen to arrive late, but judges understand and tolerate that because they know that lawyers often have more than one appearance scheduled at or about the same time. But you, as a defendant, need to arrive at the courthouse on time (preferably early) for each and every court appearance. Judges keep track of who is in court on time and who is not, because bailiffs and other courtroom staffers make sure to tell them.

Dress appropriately for all court appearances. Although the appropriate dress code differs from client to client, a good rule of thumb is to dress the way you would dress if you were going to church, or if you wanted to make a good impression at an important job interview. This shows respect for the court and the judge. Even defendants who are in custody and dressed in jail garb should be sure to be well groomed and polite in court. "Attitude matters." Show respect for the court, and even for the prosecutor (your worst enemy). Trust me, judges do consider this when considering important decisions on a case. If they know that a defendant is always respectful to the court, that defendant will benefit from it.

When your case involves a hearing at which witnesses are called to testify, you will find yourself seated beside your lawyer at counsel table. When this happens, there are two important rules to remember.

Do not talk to your lawyer while the case is going on, because he cannot listen to you and pay attention to the testimony at the same time. Jot down important points on a sheet of paper, and your lawyer will review it at the appropriate time.

Secondly, be sure to maintain your composure at all times. I tell my clients to keep a "poker face." Clients will sometimes sit quietly during parts of incriminating testimony, and then overreact when they hear something that they disagree with. This signals to everyone in court that all of the other testimony was true. Don't react at all. You already know all of the evidence by the time you hear it in court. So do not allow anyone to "read" you by observing your reaction to any testimony, good or bad.

Prepare for your own testimony at pretrial motions or trial, should it become necessary ( See article on how a person should testify)

Prepare for the probation interview, if it should become necessary (see additional article, "How to Prepare for Your Pre-sentence probation Interview").
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