This page has been developed to provide you with a guideline when contacting resources who may be able to help you with a competent defense.

Do not send blanket requests asking someone to help you.

This may be the most stressful situation in your life. As such, the emotions and feelings of panic, disbelief and fury are not only normal, but are to be expected. However, statements you make, whether in an email or by phone, have the potential to get into the wrong hands and may be used against you.

Many people who are accused of SBS panic and send out mass emails to anyone that they feel can help their cause. Unfortunately, this can do more damage than good.

Instead of detailing your entire case in an email, simply provide basic information so that resources can contact you. Here’s an example: “My name is Sue Hanson. I’ve been charged with class III felony child abuse. The state claims that my son has shaken baby syndrome. He is currently in intensive care. I am currently looking for an attorney in the Chicago area and was referred to you by I’d like to know if we could speak briefly by phone. If so, could you please contact me at 708-555-1212. Thanks.”

Create a timeline of relevant information and an organized list of your questions.

When you are contacted by an attorney at your request, be as concise as possible as to respect the attorney’s time. Try to summarize the details in an orderly fashion. This will not only help you organize your thoughts, but will also provide a valuable tool for your attorney during the course of your case.

Secondly, try to think of questions in advance. Some examples might be: “What happens from here as it relates to trial procedure? What is your retainer amount? How much can I expect or plan it will cost for me to go to trial? What is the possible sentencing structure like for the crime I’ve been charged with?”

Attorneys are not therapists.

There are lots of attorneys out there. Some are more to the point and want to spend little time agonizing with you over the emotional impact your case is causing you. Others may listen patiently for hours on end. And finally, there are some that will listen for brief periods before you are cut off. There is really no right or wrong response.

However, realize that attorneys are not therapists. They can’t help you cope with the emotional aspects of the trauma you are experiencing. Save your ranting and raving for your family, friends or a therapist (if your therapist is covered as a privileged contact-or someone that could not be called in to testify in court for statements you make to him/her.)

Realizing that attorneys are not therapists in the beginning will not only keep your legal bills to a minimum, but it can also keep your attorney focused on your case and not on your emotional trauma.

Expect to pay for services.

Rarely do private attorneys and legal consultants provide services for free. They have families to support and bills to pay. While most attorneys will gladly speak to you regarding your case initially for free, they do expect payment for subsequent calls.

Attorneys do not possess super powers.

Attorneys have lots of information about the inner workings of the legal and justice system. However, they are humans just like you. From time to time, they make mistakes or bad choices. For the most part, however, these mistakes and bad choices will not gravely impact your case.

Many people accused of a crime expect for attorneys to make a few calls, pull a few strings and get them out of the jam. This is hardly the case. In some situations, where evidence is extremely weak, defense attorneys can have a case dismissed. These cases, however, are extremely rare. Your attorney will likely lack a magic wand or fairy dust to sprinkle over your case. They do not possess the power to change fate. As such, it is best if you treat them as a peer who has special knowledge of the justice system, rather than someone with super powers.