As a criminal defense paralegal, it’s my job to take care of many of the little things that happen in between court appearances. While the attorneys are negotiating with the DA in and out of court, I might be performing some other task that a law degree does not require. I might help a client get in contact with an alcohol education provider, or I might draft a Motion to Appear by Telephone for client that lives out of state, and might be financially unable to travel back to Colorado for a given court hearing. Among all the things I do, probably the most frequent thing is answer any non-legal questions (or at least find the answer) that a client might have.
A criminal case can be a very stressful process for a client and their family. The outcome is not always favorable and if the defendant suspects this, they might just want a sentence sooner than later, just to get it over with. (I can confidently say however, that the outcome of any given case is almost always more favorable with an attorney’s help than without it). Clients often ask me when their case is going to get dismissed, or whether the next court appearance is going to be the last. The best way for me to describe a criminal case is that you have to think of it as a marathon, and not a sprint.
We all understand how stressful the process is, but as a defendant, you must have endurance for the race; you must be the tortoise, not the hare. Everybody knows the story: the slow moving tortoise beats the speedy hare. The process takes time and you must have patience. You never know what piece of evidence, or key witness might step forward and turn the case in a completely different direction. When our attorneys meet with a potential client, they will always tell the client that the most important thing to look for in an attorney (beyond competence in the subject matter) is someone the client can trust. It is the attorney’s job to keep you in the loop as to what is going on in your case, and they will not make serious decisions without advising you on the likely or probable outcome first.
It is not my intention to deter anyone from asking questions, in fact, I encourage you to ask as many questions as you like. My point is that as a defendant, you need to understand that these things take time, have patience, and remember that it’s a marathon. My colleague always tells clients not to worry; you pay us to worry, and she’s right. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that we need to handle, and that’s why you hire an attorney. Together we will get through it.