5 Important Ways Your Family Can Help If You are Facing Criminal Charges
When a loved one is accused of a criminal act, family members experience a number of emotions. In some cases, Toronto criminal lawyers
have loved ones showing up at their doors asking what they can do in terms of relating to and supporting the accused party. While the circumstances will make a difference in how those family members conduct themselves, many lawyers will recommend these five actions.
Avoid Snap Judgments
Upon hearing about the arrest and charges, loved ones are likely to either assume the worst or instantly think there is no way this could be happening. Neither reaction will help anyone, including the accused party. While being upset is understandable, now is the time to step back and remain as objective as possible.
In some cases, that will mean not assuming the charges are valid. Even if the accused party has engaged in conduct in the past that would seem to support the criminal action, those past actions do not confirm that the current charges are accurate. It would be better to avoid saying anything indicating absolute certainty until there is more evidence.
Denying the possibility that the charges are valid also accomplishes nothing. Objectivity must also come into play if a family member refuses to believe the accused is capable of such an action. Remaining calm and open to whatever evidence comes to light could lead to remembering something that the lawyer could use in preparing a defence.
Listen to The Accused Party’s Side of the Story
Once the initial shock of hearing about the charges subsides, it’s time to sit down with the loved one and ask to hear his or her side of what took place. Assuming the legal counsel has not advised the client to talk about the case with no one, there’s a good chance of getting a more balanced idea of what occurred.
While listening to the account, choosing to remain silent is the best course of action. If there are any questions, they can wait until the loved one has finished telling his or her side. Don’t be surprised if something the loved one says brings up a question or two. The answers to those questions may remind the accused party of information that the lawyer needs to hear.
Be Honest About Their Feelings
All sorts of feelings can develop after a loved one is arrested and charged with a criminal act. Depending on the nature of the accusation, family members may feel anger, disappointment, fear, disgust, and just about everything in between. Keeping those feelings bottled up will not accomplish anything.
The best approach is to find an outlet for those feelings. Talking about them with the accused party may or may not be a good idea. Seeking out someone who can be trusted to keep the conversation confidential will work. Another family member, a member of the clergy, or a professional counselor can all be sounding boards and help family members sort through their feelings.
Cooperate With The Lawyer
It's not just the accused party who needs to provide the criminal lawyer
with complete cooperation. The same holds true for the family members as well. If someone has information that they believe would be of help, it should be provided to the lawyer as quickly as possible. Should the legal counsel ask any questions, they must be answered as fully and accurately as the family member can manage. The goal is to ensure there is transparency between the lawyer, the client, and those who are close family members. More than once, this approach has led to information a lawyer could use to strengthen a defence.
Go to Court With the Accused
Making arrangements to be in court with the accused is one of the more important ways to show support. No matter what the family member thinks about the charges, being present is usually a comfort to the person who is on trial. In the event the court finds that the loved one is not guilty of the charges, being there to celebrate with the accused is a great way to bring the whole unfortunate situation to an end. Even if the verdict is not what everyone hoped, the presence of loved ones gives the accused a reason to regroup, face whatever is to come, and look to the day when life can get back to normal.
While you may feel helpless to do anything for your loved one, there are ways you can provide support even as you work through whatever feelings you are experiencing. In the best-case scenario, your efforts will prevent unnecessary damage to the relationship, provide support during a time when it’s desperately needed, and make it easier for everyone to deal with the outcome of the criminal case.