A Word to the Parents and Loved Ones of Criminal Defendants

In any given criminal case an attorney must to some extent interact with the parents or loved ones of the client who is charged with a criminal offense.  The outcome of these interactions can either have a positive or negative impact on the case.

First and foremost, an attorney is constrained by the rules of ethics such that the attorney is not at liberty to discuss all aspects of the case due to the need to protect client confidentiality.  The client may waive this requirement, but the issue is there and the loved ones of clients must respect that reality.

Secondly, parents and other loved ones must be cognizant of the fact that attorneys are very busy and any time time bringing people other than the client up to speed is time not spent working of the particular issues that need to be addressed for all clients.  As my Contracts Professor used to say “time is capital and is must be spent wisely.”  This is not to say that any good attorney will not be happy to give the client’s family an update but any such requests need to be reasonable and respectful.

Lastly, to all parents and loved ones,  your job is to love your clients; an attorney’s job is to both advocate for their client and to give them the cold hard facts so they can be fully advised as to their options and in the end make the best choice for them.  So parents and loved ones, let the attorney do his or her job.  They are trained to be objective and professional.  Give the attorneys the latitude and support they need to do their best for their client.  This is the best course of action in a criminal case.  And don’t be afraid to ask how you can help.  There are many ways to help an attorney do his or her job depending on the particular case.  The parents and loved ones know the client better than anyone else and can often contribute by presenting options and information that will present the client in the best possible way toward either mitigating the situation or aiding in a raising a strong defense at trial.