If you have a friend or family member in prison, you want to do everything you can to help them. This might mean something simple like sending them letters or talking to them on the phone. It might also mean something more complicated like handing their finances while they’re inside. You might also want to help them on the legal side of things. But what legal options do you have to help a loved one in prison? The answer to that question really depends.
Can you help your loved one’s attorney while they’re in prison?
Yes. If your loved one was recently arrested or charged, you can help them find an attorney. The decision whether to hire the attorney is up to them. But you can help by getting your loved one contact information and other information about the attorney.
If your loved one already has an attorney, you can also help the attorney prepare the case. If your loved one has an alibi or other evidence that would help at home, you can get that evidence and bring it to the attorney. You can also help the attorney understand more details about your loved one. You know your loved one better than their attorney does, so any information you can provide might help.
What can’t you do to help your loved one’s attorney while they’re in prison?
There are also limits on how you can help your loved one’s attorney. The attorney-client privilege protects the communications between your loved one and their attorney. This means that the prosecutor can’t learn what they said during that conversation. If you join those calls, though, it gets complicated. Sometimes, the simple fact that you were on the phone means the prosecutor can listen. This could hurt your loved one’s case.
If your loved one gets hurt by another incarcerated person or a prison guard, you may also want to help them file a lawsuit. Your ability to help has limits, too. Again, you cannot hire a lawyer to file this kind of lawsuit. Your loved one must do that themself. But you can provide them information about lawyers. You also can’t file the lawsuit yourself.
Can you help your loved one pay for their attorney?
Yes. Another way you can help your loved one is by helping to pay for their attorney. Attorneys cost a lot. And good attorneys cost even more than that.
Your loved one does have a right to an attorney and may get a public defender, but sometimes they want to hire their own. Many public defenders are great at what they do. But they have large caseloads, are overworked and are underpaid. This leads many people accused of crimes to try to hire their own attorney.
You can help your loved one do that. You can either pay for it or come up with an arrangement to let your loved one borrow the money until they’re released. But, even if you pay for your loved one’s attorney, your loved one, not you, still controls what the attorney does.
You have many ways that you can help your loved one in prison, and those include several legal options. You can help your loved one find an attorney. You can help the attorney get the evidence they need. And you can even help pay for attorney fees. However, the attorney-client relationship is still between your loved one and their lawyer. And there are several things you can’t do because they would interfere with that.