You’re a great person – you spend your weekends volunteering at a homeless shelter, you rescue abused animals and give them forever homes and you read to the blind in your spare time. But there is something lurking in your past – maybe you were young and foolish or in the wrong place at the wrong time – but you have a past criminal history from another state that you try to forget about. Let’s say that you are involved in a custody case and you are meeting with your newly hired attorney. Your attorney asks you if you have a past criminal history, to which you answer no, which your attorney relies on.
Now, fast forward – you are testifying at a custody hearing and your ex’s attorney is questioning you. You are suddenly presented with criminal docket sheets from your past charges and you have no choice but to admit to the past charges and attempt to explain what happened. The judge, hearing this for the first time, now assumes if you were attempting to hide this, what else are you attempting to hide. You have damaged your credibility in the eyes of the court and all of the wonderful stuff you do may mean nothing now. If you had been honest with your attorney, he or she would have been able to handle the situation in a much better way. Most likely, your attorney would have had you admit to the past charges during your direct examination so that you have the opportunity to explain exactly what occurred. Also, the judge hears you admitting to your mistakes and gives you credit for being the one to bring it up.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to be honest with your attorney. If your attorney does not have all of the information, they cannot represent you fully.