I've Been Charged - What Can I Do To Help Myself?
Why me? How can I let this happen? If I could just go back and undo what I did. It's only natural to engage in this thought process when you have been charged with a criminal offence. Such sentiments may be echoing repeatedly in your mind. You may even believe that you cannot stop them. However, you must to be able to help yourself.
Begin by recognizing that this thought process creates feelings of helplessness and is disempowering. If you are reading this, then you are probably trying to understand your predicament and attempting to gain some measure of control over the situation. This is a major step in the right direction.
Gaining control over your emotions and thought process is essential. It's the first step in the journey ahead. Doing so will allow you to think clearly and make effective decisions. Whatever has happened to bring you to this point has already transpired. There's absolutely not any advantage to re-living it and judging yourself. Accept that it has happened. You now face a challenge that you need to confront.
Take a sheet of paper and write"To my lawyer" at the peak of the page. This will preserve the privileged nature of this document. Write down in as much detail as possible (do not be worried about including irrelevant facts) everything that happened during the incident that lead to the charge. If you feel there's relevant background information then include it. Also, make notes of any questions and concerns that come to mind. This exercise serves several functions. It preserves your memory of those events that you may be asked to testify to many months down the road. It provides your lawyer a complete and accurate understanding of the situation. It makes it possible to clarify and articulate your own thoughts.
The next task is to find the perfect lawyer. This may appear to be a formidable task. After all, what do you really know about the law? Knowledge of the law isn't something you will need to find the ideal lawyer. You are able to ascertain whether you want someone. You are able to judge whether you prefer the individual's approach. You are able to assess a person's communication skills. You are able to appreciate how long that person has or has not spent with you. Use these factors to guide you. You have a lifetime of experience dealing with people. Rely on it. Trust your instincts. Trust yourself.
Keep the channels of communication open. A lack of communication between a lawyer and client often leads to misunderstandings and a breakdown in the relationship. It's the lawyer's duty to keep the customer well-informed and updated on a regular basis. However, you can and should pick up the phone anytime you have a question, a concern, an idea, or just want to know if there has been a development in your case. A fantastic lawyer encourages this sort of contact and will make himself available to his customers. Make sure that your lawyer adheres to the philosophy and take advantage of it. The more communication you have, the better educated you and your lawyer will be. As a result, your lawyer will be able to supply more meaningful advice and you, in turn, will provide better instructions to your lawyer. In the long run, you'll be more satisfied with the level of service you get from your lawyer.
Be proactive in the development of your case. Be prepared to participate in the construction of your defence. As brilliant as the lawyer may be, he doesn't have a first-hand understanding of the facts. You do. You were there. The facts are everything. A fantastic lawyer admits this and will set out to master the facts. To do so, he should involve you in the procedure. Review the signs with your lawyer. Comment on what you agree with, what you disagree with, what you think could be overlooking. Share your ideas. You may come up with something your lawyer hasn't thought of.
Finally, maintain a positive attitude. Negative feelings will creep up from time to time. This is natural and to be expected. However, don't let them interfere with your attention. Simply acknowledge them then put them aside. A positive attitude will allow you to effectively process information and advice from the lawyer; to provide appropriate instructions to your lawyer; to communicate your concerns; and to generally be useful in your defence.
Remember, as bad as it sounds now, you'll get through this.