DO’S AND DON’TS
Discuss your case with other inmates. Do not speak to any other inmate about your case. Whether conversations are in English or another language, anything you say to other inmates can be used against you in court. All letters and phone calls in and out of the jail are reviewed by jail/prison personnel, so do not discuss your case with anyone through these means. The only persons with whom you should discuss your case are your lawyer and any of this office’s investigators/assistants working on the case. Also, please keep in mind that in the federal system, a majority of defendants will at some point agree to “cooperate” with the government in exchange for a lighter sentence themselves. For those of you who have been detained while your case is pending, be aware that your cell mates may be pumping you for information so that they can turn around and provide the information to the Government. This happens all the time.
Discuss the facts of your case with family. We are sure that you would not want to see a family member end up as a witness against you. Therefore, do not discuss the facts of your case with family members. This includes any phone conversations that you make from the jail or letters you may send to family or friends from the jail. Your phone calls are being recorded, and your mail is being monitored.
Ignore all “jail house lawyers.” Some inmates in the county jails are not involved in the federal system and have little or no knowledge about the federal judicial process. Even among federal prisoners, false rumors circulate. Listen to your lawyer. Your defense team is the best source of information about your case. If these so-called jail house lawyers knew what they were talking about, then why are they still sitting in jail?
Be open during visitation with your lawyer and defense team. Once you have been appointed counsel, your lawyer or an investigator from the office will speak to you. Due to the discovery rules in the federal criminal justice system, the prosecution is not required to provide the defense team with nearly as much evidence as is provided in the state system. It is therefore crucial that you be truthful with your defense team and provide them with as much information as you can. Take the time to think about potential witnesses and their contact information, and have this information ready when your lawyer and the investigators speak with you.
Contact your lawyer. Our office will accept your collect calls, but please keep the following in mind when you call. First, do not abuse this courtesy. We ask that you call only when something important needs to be conveyed to us. Also, remember that because the jail records phone conversations, nothing having to do with the facts of your case or defense will be discussed.
Arrive for court appearances. If you are given pre-trial release, it is critical that you show up on time for every court appearance and not violate any condition of your release.
Also keep in mind that you should dress appropriately; remember that every time you appear in court you are striving to make a good impression on the judge/jury. What is appropriate? No jeans. Absolutely no shorts. No bling. For men: dress pants and a button down shirt.
For women: dress pants, skirt, or dress. Now is not the time to feel as though you need to make a fashion statement. Also, no cell phones in court. Finally, while in some cases it may be unavoidable, do not bring small children to court. If you must bring children to court make sure they are accompanied by a responsible adult who can watch them during your hearing. Note: Persons entering a federal building will be asked to produce proper identification i.e. a drivers license.