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The Duties And Responsibilities Of Your Defense Attorney

By Expert Author: Stam Bett

If you've been charged with a crime, it's usually in your best interest to seek out a defense attorney as soon as possible. Nearly all defendants are represented by a lawyer, whether it's a court-appointed lawyer or a private defense lawyer, and your attorney will work as your advocate, zealously representing you and fighting for the best possible outcome.

Many people who have never faced criminal charges before have a lot of questions about the process, and there may be confusion about your own responsibilities and what your attorney is expected to do. Here's an overview of the duties of your lawyer, and what you are expected to do.

Confidentiality
One of the most important principles of the attorney-client relationship is attorney-client communications are privileged and confidential. Your attorney cannot reveal any written or spoken statements you make, or statements they make to you, to anyone else, including family members, employers or the prosecutors, without your permission.

There are a few ways to lose your right to confidentiality while speaking with your Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer, though. Examples include speaking in a public place, jailhouse conversations on the phone, inviting other people to be present during the conversation or sharing the conversation with someone else later.

Some information may not be confidential as well. If you tell your Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer that you plan to commit a crime in the future, he or she can be compelled by the government to testify about your statement, as confidentiality does not extend to any statements about future fraud or crime. If there is a life-threatening situation or emergency, your lawyer may need to reveal this information to police.

Attorneys Need to Turn Over Some Items to Police
Another thing to keep in mind is your attorney may be obligated to turn over certain items to the police. You cannot give items such as proof of your guilt to your attorney to prevent the police from seizing them, and you cannot conceal instruments of a crime by giving them to a lawyer.

Decisions You Need to Make
Every defense lawyer operates within an ethical code and every case belongs to their clients, not themselves. You will be the one to serve the time or pay a fine, not your lawyer, so you will need to make many decisions, although lawyers are not obligated to fulfill all of your demands if they would conflict with the lawyer's professionalism or ethical rules.

After consulting with a defense attorney, you will need to make decisions about what plea to enter, whether to accept a plea bargain, whether to waive a jury trial, whether you will personally testify at the trial and whether to appeal the ruling.

It's a good idea to become as involved in your own case as possible, and remember that there are some decisions your lawyer will usually make. This includes how to question potential jurors, which witnesses to call, how to cross-examine prosecution witnesses, what evidence to introduce and more. You will need to rely a great deal on your defense attorney's skills and experience during your case.

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