May I Get a Second Opinion of my Criminal Case?
I was reading the unfortunate situation of Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royal closer, who decided to undergo season-ending surgery after getting a third opinion when I realized why people think it is so easy for a lawyer to give an opinion on a case. In a criminal case like sexual assault, or drug possession it is not that easy. Unlike in medical situations a lawyer does not have all the information to review a case immediately. An attorney needs to review an offense report, investigate the facts, talk to the prosecutors among other things before giving a professional opinion. The offense report is obtained by the hired lawyer on the case who signs a confidentiality agreement with the District Attorney’s Office that states they will not release the report to anyone.
Daily, I receive a telephone call from someone that wants me to advise them what to do with their case despite the fact that I am not their lawyer. It would be unethical of me to give an opinion on a case that where I do not have the offense report, gone to court, or properly investigated the facts. I realize that I provide a free initial consultation, but that does not go as far as stating that I will give them legal advice. In fact, a lawyer can not give legal advice unless they have been hired by the client. It would be unfair to the client, and the attorney(s) to give an opinion on the possibilities of getting a case dismissed or winning at trial before doing the aforementioned. I realize that being charged with a crime is a traumatic experience, and all someone wants is some reassurance, but that is why they hire a lawyer.
If someone is calling me despite having hired someone it tells me they have lost confidence in their attorney. I try to reassure a person that calls me with concerns that they are entitled to a trial, presumed innocent, and are free to hire the lawyer that they choose. Nevertheless, I am precluded from giving advice before I have been hired on the case.