What can clients do to help themselves during the pendency of their Vermont criminal case

When a person is charged with a criminal offense it is important to slow down and take stock of the situation.  There are things that a criminal defendant can do to help themselves during the pendency of their Vermont criminal case.  Similarly there are actions that a criminal defendant should avoid so as to not make a serious situation any worse. A defendant’s ability to help themself may be more limited if the judge orders cash bail that they cannot pay, or if they are held without bail.

It is very often a good idea for a defendant to take steps to address the perceived negative behavior related to their charge.  For example, if a defendant is charged with DUI, they should schedule an evaluation with a licenced drug and alcohol counselor (LADC) and adhere to any follow-up recommendations.  A certificate of participation or completion for this programming can be later obtained and presented to the judge or prosecutor. Typically there is similar programming available for issues like anger, substance abuse, safe parenting, domestic violence, unsafe driving etc.  

Importantly, such actions undertaken by a defendant cannot be the basis of admissible evidence against them to show that they more than likely engaged in the charged conduct.  Whether a defendant decides to ultimately admit the charged conduct or not, when they exhibit and demonstrate a proactive response to their own perceived unsafe behavior this will open the door to a negotiation and/ or sentencing that better considers their own needs.

If the judge assigns a defendant conditions of release these must be carefully followed or else attempts must be made to amend any conditions that are not appropriate.  Similarly, a defendant to a pending criminal case must avoid violating any applicable conditions of release, and avoid being charged for additional new criminal conduct.  An important goal for a defendant is to stay off the radar such that judges and prosecutors become more focused on other more serious or recent cases.

Criminal defendants should also avoid talking to coworkers, friends or casual acquaintances about their pending case.  Such sharing will typically only serve to complicate, and even worsen, the defendant’s overall situation. There may be times where it is appropriate to seek character references and the like, which can be provided to the judge and/ or prosecutor.  An experienced Vermont criminal lawyer can assist a defendant take stock and understand actions they might take to help themselves during the pendency of their criminal case.


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