You and Your Court-Appointed Attorney A Client’s Guide to Working With an Attorney
A Competent Attorney for Everyone
If you are charged with a crime, for which you may be sent to jail, you have the right to have an attorney represent you. This right is guaranteed through state and national constitutions and laws. With the help of an attorney, every person, whether rich or poor, stands equal before the law.
Your attorney is a competent attorney, licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He or she will provide you with the same kind of legal advice and service they would provide to any other client charged with the same crime, under the same circumstances.
Court-appointed attorneys have agreed to work at a reduced rate, set by the Commonwealth of Virginia, because they want to do their part to make sure the legal system works for everyone. All court-appointed attorneys in Prince William County are also in private practice. This means that in addition to representing you, court-appointed attorneys also represent clients that have hired them for their legal services.
Fees and Plans for Payment
- There are costs associated with your defense which include attorney fees and court costs.
- If a translator or assistance for the hearing impaired is required, you should contact the court, so arrangements can be made.
- If you are found not guilty, in most cases, all court costs and attorney fees will be paid by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- If you are found guilty, a payment plan for court costs and attorney fees will be determined by the judge.
- Each level of court has a different fee schedule, which your attorney can discuss with you.
Regardless of the source of payment for his/her fee, your attorney will be working for you.
How to work with your Attorney
- If you are in jail, your attorney will contact you within 48 hours of being notified by the court of his or her appointment to your case. Otherwise, it is your responsibility to contact your attorney.
- Your attorney will assist you in understanding what you are charged with and what needs to be proved for you to be found guilty.
- You and your attorney will review the facts of your case and discuss your available defenses.
- You and your attorney will identify witnesses who have information about your case.
- Your attorney is available to provide you with legal advice and professional judgment related to your case.
- Your attorney, within the bounds of the law, will exercise professional judgment on your behalf in the defense of your case.
- Communication with your attorney is important in order for your attorney to properly prepare your case.
- You should not discuss your case with anyone other than your attorney.
- You and your attorney may discuss whether plea bargaining is available and whether it is in your best interest.
- In the event your case goes to trial, your attorney will represent you and your interests throughout the trial.
- Your attorney will respect your decision to testify or not.
- Your attorney will respect your decision to have a jury trial or not.
- Your attorney will respect your decision to plead guilty or not guilty.
- If you are found guilty,your attorney will represent you and your interests during the sentencing hearing.
- Because your attorney represents many clients, he or she may not be immediately available when you contact his/her office; however, your attorney will be responsive to you and your concerns.
- You and your attorney should strive to develop a productive and professional relationship.
- You and your attorney must assist each other in understanding all of the facts of the case. The more you help your attorney, the more your attorney can help you.