Step 2: Panic Equals Massive Punishment

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

One of the most important things you can do for someone you love after they have been arrested is to make sure that the legal team that they hire has a client stress control protocol. Many lawyers deal with client stress by handholding office chats. Their clients feel better, but their legal fee has actually been wasted. Here is a question to ponder: Do you want a lawyer who is great at being an armchair mental health therapist, or do you want the most effective lawyer you can possibly get? The answer is obvious. You want the technical expertise necessary to have the highest degree of likelihood of producing a favorable result, whether that’s a trial verdict or a plea bargain. Part of the way that you can help your lawyer help you (or someone you love) is to utilize a stress control protocol. In my law firm, we have one called Coping with Stress during Criminal Prosecution. It is a series of recommendations that are multifaceted in nature.

We also have a series of books that we recommend that people read. The first book will actually be given free to each client and every family member who wants one. This book is an electronic book, meaning that it can be downloaded to your tablet or your phone so that you can read it several times a day for a few minutes. It is better to read several times a day for just a few minutes rather than several hours on one day and then to go several days without any reading at all. Books are a key component of controlling stress during the criminal prosecution. This is because when someone goes to sleep, their mind is still active. To use broad lay terms, think of it as your conscious mind being asleep, but your subconscious mind being active and processing information from the day in the form of dreams and things that you won’t even remember when you wake up.

Because your subconscious mind is still active and processing the trauma of arrest and prosecution, reading on a regular basis throughout the day affects your mind’s performance at night. Over a period of days-once this anti-stress protocol has been instituted-it becomes more difficult to deal with the case emotionally. This is one of the most critical things a person can do. I always have clients who will ask me, “What should I do? Can I do some leg work for you, can I do some legal research for you?” The answer every single time is the same: I tell them to read. I also tell them to listen to the audio programs, whether they buy them or simply stream them through an application from a YouTube video. We have a list of authors and programs that can be easily found on YouTube or similar sites. Then, these materials can be listened to through ear buds or through a car stereo while driving. By simply reading and listening to these materials, people notice significant reductions in their stress levels.

In some cases, mental health professionals are required. If this seems to fit you or someone you love, make sure that you go over it with an attorney. If someone goes to a counselor because they’re dealing with the stress of a sex offense prosecution, and they make certain statements regarding other cases of sexual battery, sexual assault or lewd and lascivious molestation acts, then that counselor is required by law to report that information. Therefore, if counseling is going to be part of your method for coping with stress during the criminal prosecution, make sure that you review that information with your attorney and the legal team beforehand.

Finally, one story that could be replicated thousands of times shows the necessity of coping with stress during criminal prosecution. It was a Thursday, which is docket day in Okaloosa County in one of the three felony divisions. Towards the end of the criminal docket, a lawyer approached, handed the judge a written plea agreement and some recommendations along with a Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet. He then announced that his client would be changing his plea from not guilty to no contest. The trial was scheduled for the following Monday, and this was the last opportunity to change that plea. The judge then began what’s known as a plea colloquy, which is a conversation between the defendant and the court that must be had before a plea can be accepted as willfully and voluntarily entered.

As the judge was going through a series of questions (the answer to which is either yes or no), he hit upon a question that went something like this, “Are you satisfied with the advice and services of your attorney?” The correct response would have been “Yes” if the man wanted to enter his plea of no contest. However, despite the fact that his lawyer had done an outstanding job (he was pleading no contest to one count of child pornography possession instead of 27), the man replied, “He could have tried harder.” As I sat there in the courtroom and watched this particular circuit judge’s face, I could tell that he was looking in every part of his brain for a way to accept the plea so that this man would not harm himself. This man clearly wanted to enter a plea of no contest, but by making that statement, there was an appellate landmine waiting to blow up and the judge couldn’t allow that.

This judge was determined that it wasn’t going to happen. So, after looking around in his head for a few moments, he simply said, “Counsel, I cannot accept this plea as freely and voluntarily entered, therefore we remain set for trial on Monday.” Then he looked over to the prosecutor and said, “State?” The state’s attorney stood up and said, “Yes, your Honor, we’ll be ready for trial on Monday.” What the state attorney did not say was, “I gave away the store with an overly favorable plea bargain, and the guy spit it back in my face. I’ll now lose my weekend. I have family coming in. My husband and I are supposed to run a marathon and my family was going to be handing us water and gel packs at different points along the race.” She didn’t say any of that. She just went home, cancelled her plans and prepared for trial. The defense lawyer approached again after announcing a plea of no contest, and this time the plea was successfully entered as freely and voluntarily entered.

However, there was one major change. Instead of four years of probation with sex offender registration, the man was sentenced to 35 years in state prison with sex offender designation and registration. The prosecutor added back 26 counts. Don’t let someone you love blow up their life by saying or doing the wrong things at exactly the wrong time in the court of law. This may sound like hyperbole, but after as many years of experience, as I have had in the field of criminal law, I can tell you that the example I gave is one of tens of thousands.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

For more information on Impact Of Panic After An Arrest, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 669-5882 today.

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