Sentencing Begins the moment an Attorney is Hired. It’s not an afterthought. It’s a plan.
In my experience, the process of sentencing begins as soon as an attorney is hired. Not after the trial. It’s a plan that is put into motion the moment an attorney is retained.
In an article published by The Champion, (Sentencing, the Trial Practice for the 21st Century, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, September/October 2021) an attorney should start addressing sentencing issues immediately after being retained. I agree.
Every one of my cases addresses issues relating to sentencing immediately upon assignment. Keep in mind that sentencing begins the moment an attorney is hired. There are a variety of issues that need to be approached and addressed.
It begins with working closely with the client to identify people that can provide an insight into the background and history of the client. I secure a listing of every person the client knows or has had any relationship with, including those from high school days, or even further back when appropriate. I want the names of everyone, not just those that have favorable opinions of the client. I need to talk to everyone that knows the client; the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have developed a line of questioning that I use as a basis for interviewing every one of these associations and I compile all the responses and provide them to the attorney. This compilation is used to develop a sense of the client’s truthfulness and potential for rehabilitation. I suspect that I will know more about the client than he does about himself by the time I complete my research. I usually tell clients that they will feel as though I’m doing more of an investigation into them than I am into the facts of the case and to a degree, that’s true. I don’t want anyone or anything to come up about the client’s background that the attorney doesn’t already know about. I don’t like surprises in court and I don’t want any attorney I work for to ever be surprised. This includes a lot of work but it pays off. If my memory serves me correctly, it’s not unusual to interview 200-250 people during this process.