The Top Mistakes People Make When Hiring A Criminal Defense Attorney
1)Hiring your Brother's Business Attorney
Your brother's business attorney is probably a great guy. Maybe he has even handled “tons” of cases just like yours. He has lots of money, a huge house, a fancy office, and drives a nice car. Obviously, that means he's a great attorney, right? Well, he probably is when it comes to business law. The problem with this is – hiring your brother's business attorney, on his recommendation, is extremely detrimental to your case. He does not specialize in criminal defense and it is not his expertise. You would not hire a foot doctor to do heart surgery and this is much the same. It is always in your best interest, as your freedom is at stake, to hire a knowledgeable, experienced criminal defense attorney to handle any pending criminal charges.
2)Hiring an Attorney Who Makes Promises to you About the Outcome of Your Case
There are lawyers who will tell you that he/she is sure that your case will be dismissed, or he/she is positive that you will win. If this happens, you should immediately go elsewhere. Lawyers cannot predict any outcome. They can give you their thoughts through experience, but can never be positive of an outcome. Again, if a lawyer tells you that you won't be charged, that your case will be dismissed, or that the prosecutor would never try the case, take this as a red flag and look for another attorney.
3)Hiring the Least Expensive Attorney
There may be times when hiring the least expensive attorney is beneficial to you. However, when dealing with a criminal offense, this is definitely not the case. If a lawyer were to offer to take your criminal case for a flat fee of $1,500.00, everything included, this is another red flag. This may see enticing, but $1,500.00 will not get you very far. The lawyer will not be putting a lot of time into your case beyond the arraignment. The fact is, a lot of time goes into defending a case properly and your concern needs to lie with experience and knowledge. Never agree to a small flat fee. Providing legal expertise is a business like any other. It requires many hours of research and hard work. If a lawyer is undercharged or giving you an “unbelievable deal”, it is probably either because they do not plan on doing much in your defense, or they are simply lying about the cost and will come up with added costs down the line. This is not the person you want playing around with your freedom.
4)Not Asking Questions
It is extremely imperative that you ask questions when hiring your criminal defense attorney. This is the person who could literally alter the course of your life. Don't you want to know what experience the attorney has? Ask how many jury trials they have done. How many non-jury? Ask what sort of education they possess and what kind of continuing education they are doing. Ask if they are on any association or training boards. Ask if they have ever seen or done a case like yours and what the outcome was. Ask what hours they will be available to you. Will you be dealing solely with them or with associates also? Will you be dealing mainly with a paralegal? How will the billing be handled? The list goes on. Of course, not all of the answers to the questions will determine whether or not the lawyer is qualified. However, a lawyer who is more engaged in the practice of criminal law is probably better at it than someone who isn't.
If the lawyer does not want to answer the questions, then they will probably not be answering many questions during your defense either. Run, don't walk! Go elsewhere! It is your right to know everything you want to know prior to and after hiring your lawyer.
5)Hiring a Lawyer who is Friends with the Judge or the Prosecutor
A good outcome will only be had by hiring an experienced criminal attorney who will work your case up thoroughly and who knows the “in's and out's” of the criminal system.
Deals do not get made because your lawyer goes out for drinks with the prosecutor/judge. The bottom line is when dealing with your life, you must not take chances. Hire a lawyer with the proper skills to get you the best deal possible, not the one who claims he can because of other factors.
6)Hiring an Attorney who Brags that he is a Former Prosecutor
Being a former prosecutor is a great way to gain trial experience and is a great way to learn some good trial skills. Some of the best criminal defense attorneys started out as prosecutors, and in some instances they may be the best lawyer for the job.
However, you must be cautious if they are telling you that they are in the know to secret information that no other lawyer will have. This couldn't be further from the truth. Again, always ask questions!
7)Hiring a Lawyer Who Wants to go with you to talk to the Police
This may sound like a smart thing, but the fact of the matter is – you should not be submitting to police questioning either with or without your attorney. While there may be a very unusual situation in your case where a police interrogation is needed, it is very uncommon. You should be very skeptical of a criminal defense lawyer who wants to take you in for questioning.8)Hiring a Lawyer who believes that the Police Report is the Whole Truth
This is a big one. Police reports most times do not contain the whole truth. Law enforcement individuals are human and make mistakes. Generally, they are also united with the prosecution. If the prosecutor/law enforcement didn't believe you did something wrong, you wouldn't be accused of the crime. As a result, general bias causes most police reports to be twisted against you. If the attorney you are looking to hire does not want to question the police report and do his own homework, look elsewhere for a lawyer.
9)Hiring a Lawyer who you don't Feel Comfortable With
The vast majority of criminal lawyers today live up to a standard of ethics which is required by law. Although, as with anything, there are always a few who don't. Basically, if you do not feel comfortable with your attorney, don't hire him/her.
10)Hiring an Attorney who is not Accessible
Keep in mind that if you have been charged with a crime, then your freedom is in jeopardy, thereby possibly placing you in prison for years, decades or more. You want to be able to reach your attorney quickly when you have an urgent issue. If you do not get a relatively quick phone call back or cannot schedule appointments within a reasonable time frame, you will want to find someone who can accommodate you.
11)Hiring an Attorney who only tells you what you want to Hear
The attorney you hire should give you the most accurate reflection of your case so that your decisions can be made based on reality. A good lawyer can be realistic about bad news and can put it in perspective. Just because there is a problem, this does not mean that a good outcome cannot be achieved. You should be wary of a lawyer who is hesitant to disagree with you or does not want to tell you news that you don't want to hear. A good lawyer's ability to give unbiased, unattached advice is an asset. A lawyer who sugar-coats your case isn't doing you any favors.
12)Hiring an Attorney Who Pressures you for a Decision/Credit Card Information
A good attorney does not need to pressure you to sign papers hiring him/her. A good criminal lawyer is confident in their ability to represent you effectively and knows that it is in your best interest to shop around. 13)Hiring a Lawyer Who Will Not Provide You with a Written Fee Agreement
Having said that, once you do decide to hire, remember that a fee agreement is important. You are going through a difficult time in your life and the last thing you need to worry about is your money too. A written fee agreement will tell you exactly what is included in the fee and is a legal contract signed by both parties. Do not trust anyone who will not give you this basic information in writing
.Also, do not trust anyone that will not give you a receipt for payment. Without a receipt, you have no record of payment. Why would anyone refuse to give you a receipt anyway?
One more thing to remember is to never hire an attorney who will quote you a fee without knowing any of the specifics of your case. If someone does this, they obviously are either overcharging you or only plan to spend a set amount of time on your case until the fee is used.
14)Never Hire an Attorney Who Advertises as a Spokesperson
The internet is full of attorneys who seemingly have great credentials. Be aware that there are “spokespersons” on the internet who will offer their experience to defend you. However, what they don't tell you is that they don't actually practice law in California, but rather they will send the case to someone who does and split the fee with them.
15)Is it Always Better to Hire an Aggressive Attorney?
Well, it is definitely necessary to be aggressive, but only at the appropriate times. Initially, if he/she comes off too aggressive, the prosecutor probably won't even want to work with them, which is not in your best interest. A good criminal attorney will have people skills and know when they should be aggressive and when they should not. An attorney who says they will be aggressive with the judge, jury or witness does not understand that harassment will get them nowhere. Don't walk, run!
Do you have questions about a case? Visalia and Bakersfield area criminal defense attorneys at Martens & Brusseau can assist you with criminal charges. With years of criminal defense experience, our firm has handled thousands of cases. Attorneys here have the skills and knowledge needed to defend your rights. Serving the Visalia, Fresno, and Bakersfield areas, Martens & Brusseau can provide expert criminal defense counsel. CONTACT US AT 559-302-9722 OR 661-466-2142 TODAY