Previewing: Criminal Law for the Non-Criminal Attorney

This CLE is intended to provide attorneys who do not practice criminal law the basics on what happens to individuals who enter the Criminal Justice System. Many attorneys will at some point in their career get questions from friends, current clients, or potential clients about that individual's criminal case. This program will provide attorneys with the information necessary to keep their client safe until they can speak with an attorney who specializes in criminal defense. The program will cover the following specifics.

The Criminal Justice System Process – It is important for an attorney who does not regularly practice in criminal defense to understand where the defendant is in the process before being able to have an informed discussion with the individual.

Diversion Programs and Specialty Courts – This segment involves specialty courts and programs such as Mental Health Court, Drug Court and ARD). Many attorneys are unaware of the full options available to criminal defendants. It can be useful for these defendants to understand that they will have opportunities to handle whatever problems that lead to their involvement in the Criminal Justice System rather than worrying that they will automatically be locked away. This could also be useful to instruct clients who have mental health issues or got caught up in the opioid crisis to seek treatment before the case gets too far as that may help their case going forward.

Should a defendant speak to the police? – Whether a defendant should ever speak with police and their rights when police call an individual to the police station will be discussed. Many times, defendants do not understand their rights in relation to police questioning or interrogation. Attorneys should know the basic rights involved and explain how a defendant can clearly invoke these rights before the defendant goes to speak with police without consulting a criminal defense attorney first.

Preservation of Evidence – By the time a criminal defendant gets to a preliminary hearing, any videos or witnesses could have easily been erased or disappeared. It is imperative to the criminal defendant to preserve as much evidence as possible before speaking with a criminal defense attorney, and attorneys can save their clients potential criminal consequences by offering this advice.

Incarcerated Clients – Attorneys who do not practice criminal defense are likely unaware of the effects of bond or other matters, such as detainers, on the ability of a client to attend court hearings or the pressure of a client to plead to an offense that may affect their rights in a civil or family court lawsuit.

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