1. Your mouth is your worst enemy!
Each of us has a constitutional right to remain silent when questioned by the police. Without a doubt this is the one constitutional right I stress above all others. If you are suspected or charged with a crime you may wish to cooperate with law enforcement, many people do. It may be <em>better</em> to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney first so you can understand all the consequences of your problem.
Invoking your right to remain silent at all times, beyond providing your background information to an arresting officer, is a must. And if you are stopped by law enforcement for some traffic violation be polite. I see more people go to jail because of a smart mouth or bad attitude. You can politely decline a search, or other tests, without being rude. Explain politely to the officer that you are invoking your rights to refuse to provide information or consent to a search. Sure, the officer might come up with a reason to take you to jail, but if you are rude, more often than not, you are going directly to jail and you won't get your phone call. Remember the Constitution is designed to protect you, not stop you from acting stupid.
The same can be said in serious auto accidents or other injuries. Before you make any statements speak to an experienced attorney. Now days the insurance industry is fighting with every breath to try and reduce the fair and reasonable sums of money we believe a person is entitled to after being injured. Talk to an experienced attorney. I stress the experience part. I have noticed that lawyers have experience all over their websites but many do not show you how they got their experience. At Coxwell & Associates we "lay it out their for the prospective clients to see.."
2. Good People Make bad Choices and Decisions:
I cringe at the word criminal. We over-stigmatize people in this country. If you study legal history you will learn it goes back to feudal days and we still retain many of the penalties and forfeitures. There are over 4500 criminal laws. There are other regulations that have the force of law. It is not difficult for someone to make a mistake or make a bad choice. It does not make you a criminal, but rather you are someone who made a mistake. In many instances with a skilled criminal defense attorney these bad choices and mistakes can be remedied so that the consequences don't follow you forever. At Coxwell & Associates we work hand in hand with our clients to reduce the consequences of mistakes.
3. Keep your receipts:
When you pay a fine or penalty of any type keep your cancelled check or the paid receipt. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I talked to someone who I believed paid their fine, but the agency or court could not find a record. Records get lost all the time. If you don't have a receipt, then as far as the agency or court is concerned, you did not pay your fine or penalty. Not fair is it?
4. Consult an experienced attorney for your problem:
When I started practicing law in October 1980 there were hundreds of general practice lawyers. Over the years as law become more concentrated and complex, I have witnessed more law firms focus on limited areas of practice. When you have a problem find a law firm who you know works regularly in the area of your problem. If you came to me for employment discrimination I would help you find a lawyer. I simply would not know what to do and honestly don't care to learn the area. At Coxwell & Associates we focus on serious accident and injury, criminal defense, and financial fraud. Far too often we have accepted clients in criminal cases after an inexperienced lawyer had bungled the defense or case. Remember experience is in the "eyes of the beholder." Get educated. Find out if your lawyer has the experience needed for your problem. You should not be afraid to ask!
5. Don't Miss your court date:
Don't miss your court date. Do I really need to say more?
6. It is better as a lawyer to have people respect you then like you:
In over thirty-four (34) years of law practice I can say that I have handled almost every type of criminal case and many different types of serious accident and injury cases. Our system of justice is an adversary system. It means as a lawyer we are the advocates for our clients. While I have never gone out of my way to be rude or practiced rudeness, when you are a zealous advocate the other side may think you are rude. As a lawyer I have always been conscious of how I acted toward others. When representing a client I have never allowed my desire to be "liked" get in the way of my client's case.
7. There such a thing as Justice:
I have not fully answered this question for myself. I have witnessed too much over my life in the law that I believed were injustices. I do think Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., early United States Supreme Court Justice in this country said it best when he wrote: This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice. I learned long ago that in the end what the client really wants are results, not the notion of justice.
8. Be professional but care:
Often times in law school young would-be lawyers are taught the law is logic and not emotion. Law students are told in order to be successful they need to be unemotional and apart from their clients. Wrong! Legal decisions are usually based on emotions. Everything we do in life is based on emotion, but it is often disguised by our brains with logic. Think about the decisions you make every day. Lawyers should absolutely care about their clients and their clients' problems. If you're the client and the lawyer doesn't care for you, go to another lawyer.
9. Relationship are more important than technology:
It is important for an attorney to say up-to-date on technology. Clients want an attorney who exhibits knowledge of technology, but they need an attorney who cares about their problem and who has a personal relationship with them. Trust is the foundation of every good relationship.
10. You can fire a client, and you the client can fire a lawyer.
Why on earth would a lawyer fire a client in this business-legal climate? Because sometimes lawyers and clients are just simply not good "fits" for each other. An attorney-client relationship is a trust relationship. If the trust does not exist, or some other problem exists in the relationship, both attorney and client are better moving forward without each other.
That's a short snippet of my accumulated wisdom over the years.