Interviewer: Do you ever have clients that feel discouraged during the process and they don’t want to go forward with it for whatever reason? What would you tell them?
Court Koehler: Yeah. I do. You get clients, and I notice a lot, it’s a very stressful situation to be in. Obviously, to be charged with a crime, you kind of go on a roller coaster of emotions. One day you’ll feel okay, or you want to fight it, or you feel like you have a good chance of taking it to trial or getting a better deal with the prosecutor. Then, sort of on the down swing, you can feel like the world is against you and that this mistake is going to follow you forever so it doesn’t matter, you just want to get it over with and start paying your debt to society, so to speak. That’s an attitude that I try to watch for and try to protect against.
It is Not Advisable For an Individual to Accept the Consequences As Told by the Prosecutor or the Police
You never want to just accept consequences as they’re told, particularly, by a prosecutor or by a police officer. They may be charging you with charges, even if you feel like your guilty, for instance, they may be over charging you. They may be asking for a penalty that is stiffer than is warranted, even if you are guilty. In those kinds of situations, you’re really risking your future. You’re risking all those collateral consequences, even beyond jail and fines with your future. You don’t know what you’re going to want to do five, ten years from now, especially if you’re young. You don’t know if you’re going to want to go in the FBI. You don’t know if you’re going to want to become a doctor and if those sorts of things are going to follow you around.
It is Usually Best To Try and Avoid Collateral Consequences Associated With an Assault Charge
As daunting as it sounds, you have a right to fight your charges. You have a right to make the prosecutor prove the charges against you before you’re sentenced and convicted. You need to exercise that right because your future depends on what’s in your record right now. Those are the most serious consequences. It’s really not fun, I imagine. I’ve never done it myself, but I imagine it’s not fun to spend 10 days in jail. Once it’s over, it’s over. If you can’t do what you want with your life 5, 10, 15 years down the road, that’s a real serious consequence that you want to avoid. If you’re getting discouraged and stuff like that, you need to talk to an attorney and you need to listen to them because they’ve gone through the process with lots of different people. They know what the collateral consequences are and why you need to be fighting it and why you need to be trying to get the best outcome in your situation that you can.
Qualities to Look For When Looking For an Attorney To Handle An Assault Case
Interviewer: If I had an assault charge pending, what are some qualities of an attorney that I should actually looking out for?
Court Koehler: Really, the same qualities that you want in any kind of attorney. The number one, most important thing is, you have to find an attorney that you trust. You have to find an attorney that you feel cares about your situation. That they’re listening to you. That they know who are, they remember who you are, they understand what your facing, and they give a crap what happens to you beyond just getting paid. That’s the most important thing. You want an attorney that’s going to return your calls. You want an attorney that’s going to do your motions and your hearings by himself, at least he’s always there. Maybe not the only attorney on your case, but you want an attorney that knows you and that knows your case, that isn’t passing you off to legal assistants and associates that don’t know what’s going on and are just showing up in court just one day. You want somebody that understands the story of your case from start to finish. You want somebody that is going to be able to negotiate with the prosecutors and that’s going to have credibility with the judge.
It is Best To Avoid Retaining Attorneys That Have a Reputation for Being Hotheaded and Cantankerous
What that means is you don’t want a hothead attorney that is argumentative and cantankerous. You want somebody that understands that you catch more bees with honey. It’s important to be able to be tough when you need to be tough, but especially when it comes to the early stages of litigation, you’re really going to get a lot farther with judges and prosecutors if you know how to be civil and you know how to foster professional relationship and gain that credibility. You want somebody that has some experience. You want somebody that’s credible, that isn’t a hothead or overly emotional. Most importantly, more important than anything else, you want somebody that you trust cares about your case.