Interviewer: What are some things that would help someone’s case while you’re working with them? What are the things that you would recommend to them?
Be Completely Honest with Your Attorney
Brian Geno: One of the things that a person can do to really help is to have a consultation with the lawyer as soon as possible. Be frank with the lawyer, tell them what happened, don’t hide the details. I’ll give you an example of what happened to me just last week.
You Must Divulge Any Prior Criminal History
I had a client who came to my office because he was charged with petty larceny. It’s not a drug case, but it’s a serious case. He was at the time under the influence of a drug and so he couldn’t formulate the intent to steal anything because he was under the influence of this drug while he was supposedly stealing something. He couldn’t formulate the intent to steal it, so it shouldn’t be considered theft.
We went to court with that defense. However, he neglected to tell me that he had been convicted previously. In fact, he had also been caught 2 times a few months prior to our case by the same company prosecuting him in my case. I didn’t know about any of those prior offenses until we went to court and I was presenting him to the court as an innocent person who got caught up in the effects of a prescription medication.
It became really obvious to the prosecution and to the police that his story was just so phony because there had been four other instances of theft. The prosecution and police and court wouldn’t believe that he had somehow gotten caught up in this. It was too great a coincidence.
If Your Attorney Has the Knowledge about Any Priors, He or She Can Be Proactive with Your Defense to Mitigate What Could Be an Onerous Sentence
Being frank with your attorney is really crucial, as well doing it early enough that the lawyer can take plenty of steps to investigate, and to come up with all the evidence needed to use those defenses. The attorney can also begin working to ameliorate the effects of a hard sentence. For example, a person might choose to do community service, or take some classes, or repay what he has stolen, or take steps that make it look better when they go to court.
I’ve had people who escaped what would have been a 20 year or more sentence simply because they took steps in advance. The person in particular that I’m talking about is serving a six year jail sentence. That’s tough. Very hard on him but it’s six as oppose to 20 or more because of what he did in advance.
Yes, there are lots of things that a creative attorney can do. There is a good deal of investigation that an attorney should do and there’s research that has to be prepared in advance. Those are all very helpful things.
What to Avoid Before and During a Pending Drug-Related Charge
Interviewer: How will the people unintentionally incriminate themselves or in what ways do people hurt their cases?
You Do Not Have to Consent to a Police Search
Brian Geno: The biggest way that people hurt themselves is by talking or consenting to a search. I know I’ve said this before and it sounds like I’m beating the same drum and I am. In fact, I call it rule number one—don’t talk to the police. The police most commonly use what someone said against them. I know it’s the subject of every crime show, but it really does make a huge difference to not speak to police, not consent to a search.
Those things are the police officer’s stock and trade. You make their job significantly easier if they can get you to agree to let them search your pockets, or search your car, or search your house. If a police officer can make you think that everything depends upon you saying what you did and what they think you should say—those are the hallmarks of a great case for the prosecution—and the hallmarks of a terrible case for a criminal defendant.