What your attorney will educate you about
Your attorney should explain the elements of the offense to you. The elements are what the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to win a conviction. If one or more of the elements is missing, you may be able to provide needed information to help win an acquittal.
Your attorney should explain thoroughly what lies ahead for you in the criminal justice system as well as the ramifications of any conviction, plea negotiation, or other alternative sentencing.
Just as important, however, is an explanation of the drunk driving (or other underlying) charge. Your lawyer should explain all the possible consequences of the charge to you including:
- All the possible defenses and possible fines;
- In the case of accidents, whether you may be civilly liable to pay damages for any injuries;
- The consequences of a conviction, including the maximum and minimum penalties assigned by law to the offense;
- The possibilities of driver’s license revocation or suspension;
- Any alcohol education or diversion programs available to you as an alternative to sentencing; and
- Increased insurance premiums that may result from the charge.
Your attorney should discuss with you the issue of perjury. Perjury is making a false statement under oath. Your attorney will doubtless encourage you to testify truthfully if you take the stand at your trial. Your attorney should also discuss with you the ramifications of committing perjury, both in terms of any possible penalties that can be imposed on you and what steps your attorney is likely to take if he or she knows of your intention to lie on the stand.
Finally, your lawyer should discuss with you the fee arrangement in detail and have you verify in writing that the fee arrangement has been explained and you have accepted it. This will include any amount of retainer required, the charges for expert testimony, if required, who will bear the costs of any disbursements and assessment of the total charges. An open and honest discussion of these finances will satisfy the attorney’s ethical requirements and will avoid disagreements in the future.