DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

Crime / Court

July 20, 2011

Waiving your legal rights is serious business

My 19-year-old got in trouble. Now, the court-appointed attorney is trying to talk him into a plea, saying the court would be more lenient if he accepts responsibility.

They told my son he has to waive his rights, including the right to have his own witnesses and to cross examine theirs. One problem I have is that the police evidence is all circumstantial and there's no real evidence.

Can I get another attorney to explain the whole process to my son? I don't want him to have a record and I don't want him to end up behind bars for a long time.

First, circumstantial evidence is real evidence. Convictions are based every day on circumstantial evidence. So, a great deal more evaluation of the facts is needed before reaching a conclusion.

Waiver of rights is a weighty matter, requiring reflection. If there is a plea, the judge will go over the rights that are given up in what is called a colloquy. But, it is good to understand this before court.

Finally, the only attorney qualified to evaluate any case and to give advice is the attorney with the file and the evidence. I have known many good public defenders.

I've had people express opinions on cases that I've handled and their thoughts, often held with conviction, have little or nothing to do with the actual facts or law in my case. If your wish is to obtain a second opinion, you should retain an attorney who can get the case and review the details.

My car was in the shop for repairs and it fell off the lift and was damaged. The car is five years old. They agreed to send it to the dealer to fix it. But, I'm not happy because we all know my vehicle will never be the same.

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