So Your Lawyer has Been Arrested . . .
Lawyers are human, with the same faults we all share, and sometimes those faults allegedly win out. But what are you, the client, to do when your legal representation requires his or her own legal representation?
- Your first step should be Communication: Call your attorney.
Remember the presumption of innocence; we are all innocent until proven guilty. The fact that charges have been brought against your attorney does not mean they committed the alleged acts. Until convicted, your attorney can still represent you in legal matters. Reach out to your attorney to discern their ability to assist you in your case.
If your attorney is not available, either due to distraction or incarceration, reach out to other lawyers working at the law firm. Your attorney’s colleagues can assist by aiding in communication, taking over your case, or helping to retrieve your files. Remember that the shortcomings of any particular lawyer ought not to reflect poorly on the law firm as a whole.
If you cannot reach your attorney or your attorney’s partners, then reach out to the court. The Clerk of the Court should be able to offer limited assistance in navigating the legal morass.
- Your second step should be Organization: Gather the important information.
When your lawyer is indicted, you should have three primary concerns:
Know the deadlines of your case. When is your next hearing? Are any mediations scheduled? When does your Plea offer expire? In addition to knowing what happens your case, you need to know when events are scheduled to happen. Again, you can discern this information by calling, in order, your attorney, your attorney’s partners, and the court. If you find that a deadline is looming, be sure to file a Motion to Continue with the court to push the deadline.
Gather the documents related to your case. While you can contact the three parties listed above, you may find that to acquire your documents a fourth party must be introduced: The police. If search warrants were issued, then your files may now be in the hands of local authorities, or their evidence locker. Contact your local police and Sherriff’s office to learn whether your files were taken as evidence, whether you can retrieve the files, or if you can receive copies.
Money is a tricky issue. First, your attorney may need the fees you paid to foot their own legal bills. Second, your attorney may have allegedly mishandled legal fees to land themselves in this mess. Third, it may be difficult to discern whether you need fees refunded until your lawyer’s lack of guilt is established. Again, contacting your attorney is the best means by which to discern the status of any fees you have paid. If your attorney is involved in a Personal Injury case, and you are still owed a settlement, you can also try contacting the Insurance Company. At the very least, the Insurance Company should be able to tell you whether or not funds have been dispersed.
- Your third step is the most important: Hire a new attorney if you are not comfortable.
If you are not able to work things out with your attorney or their office, or if they are not responsive, then you will need to get a new attorney to continue moving your matter forward. Even if you are able to get in touch with your lawyer you may not feel comfortable staying, if so you always have the right to change attorneys. You might feel that while you may need a good criminal lawyer, that you don’t want a criminal lawyer.