Tips to potential clients and their families seeking criminal defense representation:
Many people who are charged with a criminal offense, particularly a serious one, are overwhelmed by the virtually unlimited number of lawyers on the internet advertising their expertise in a particular type of case. It is important to know that every case is different, and that lawyers are allowed to post internet advertising or website information claiming to handle cases in which they have little, even no, experience. Factory-style practices with fee schedules and the like serve an important function in handling relatively simple matters at a low cost. However, more complex matters are a completely differently world. Quite often, deciding on an attorney is not as much of an emergency as lawyers lead potential clients to believe. Below are several tips concerning selection of a criminal defense attorney:
Be cautious about lawyers who seem excessively focused on rushing the hiring/payment decision before learning much about the case, whose “practice areas” include every conceivable practice area, or who claim a special relationship with a police officer, prosecutor, Judge, or a court. Hundreds of attorneys know the prosecutors and judges in every jurisdiction, and such should not be put forward as a unique connection which will help a particular case.
While it is not uncommon for a client to hire a lawyer over the phone in a small case like a DWI, it is not a good idea to select an attorney on a more serious case without an in-person meeting about the case, and not just about the legal fee.
Do not hire a lawyer who guarantees a result. This is unethical and almost certainly a sign of someone who needs your case more than you need his or her help.
Law firms are going to wish to be paid all or a substantial portion of a fee up front. This is normal and makes sense, because criminal defense attorneys wish to work the cases and not chase after people about fees. However, if potential client can honestly commit to, and maintain an agreement to pay over time, many attorneys will agree. It is always a terrible idea however, to commit to a payment plan and fail to deliver on it. If you can’t afford a lawyer’s fee, you are better off going to someone else.
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