You get accused of white collar crime, and the charges are serious. They allege that you have spent years or even decades financially benefiting yourself through illegal means. They’re threatening to make you pay through fines, jail time and other ramifications.
Not only do you worry about the outcome in that sense, but you worry about your career. Is this it? You have worked hard for this your entire life. Could a conviction end it all? What will your friends and family think? How will you make a living again and create the life you want?
In short, you have a lot of questions. What should you expect at your first meeting with your legal team?
A give and take
We often describe it as a give and take process. To start, you give out the details of the case. Explain the background and the facts. Talk about exactly what the charges are and how they relate to what really happened. Paint the picture so that everyone is on the same page.
Remember, be honest with your lawyer. This is a confidential relationship. Your legal team needs the facts. Don’t hold them back to try to protect yourself. It may be your natural instinct, but you’re really damaging your case severely. Always be honest and come forward with new information any time you get it. Trust your legal team and make it so they can trust you.
What do you take away from the meeting? The legal team explains the charges, the laws surrounding those charges, the legal precedents and more. They give you a brief overview of the procedure and tell you what you should expect moving forward. They can answer questions like:
- What do the charges mean?
- When do we plead?
- When is the first court date?
- What paperwork has to be filed?
- What does the schedule look like from here on out?
The best way to think about this is like going to the hospital when you haven’t been feeling well and getting a diagnosis. You go to the hospital for help, but you don’t expect them to cure you at the initial visit. It’s just the first step. You get answers and you find out how to seek treatment and an eventual cure.
It’s the same when meeting with a lawyer. You find out what to do, you get the answers you need, and you get relief from uncertainty and anxiety. The unknown becomes known. Your future strategy starts to take shape and you learn what to do next.
As you start this process, remember your rights. No matter what they accuse you of, you have a right to a fair trial.