Choosing an Attorney

The reader of this web site has now reached the point where he/she must say to himself/herself, "WOW, I have gotten myself into some sort of mess! How do I protect myself best?"

ANSWER: Hire the best criminal trial lawyer you can locate for your kind of case.

There are basically three (3) fundamental rules to consider when hiring a criminal trial attorney:

ONE: NEVER ACT AS YOUR OWN ATTORNEY.

Being your own attorney may work for characters on a television show or in the movies, but in real life defendants don't win their own cases. Yes, it is theoretically possible that one defendant in a thousand (or ten thousand) can actually win his own case. But look at the odds. They are terrible for the accused person. Would you want to roll the dice and have one chance in 1,000 to win? What about 1 in 10,000?.

TWO: HIRE AN ATTORNEY WITH A LOT OF EXPERIENCE.

When your Aunt Mary reminds you, Remember that you cousin< Freddy is a lawyer. He could take your case and probably give you a discount on his fees. It will be just like buying discount snow tires from your Uncle Ned!" Unless cousin Freddy is an active practicing trial attorney who goes to court to plead cases three times per week -- you really should say NO to Aunt Mary's offer. Remember to be polite.

When your best friend tells you that his immediate neighbor is a knowledgeable attorney, that he teaches a law class at the local law school once every semester, make sure to ask this question: "What subject does he teach?" If the answer is, "He teaches classes about conflicting mortgages, circular priorities of liens, common law easements as compared to statutory easements, and tax liens against real estate", then that lawyer is truly a genius. BUT that is not the subject that will keep you out of jail.

There are many lawyers who have practiced law for 30 or 40 years and then retired. Many have never entered a courtroom to have a trial. Many tax attorneys, patent attorneys, unemployment compensation, and social security attorneys will do excellent administrative paperwork. Rarely if ever do they enter a courtroom to try a criminal case to a jury.

THREE: ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS IN A POLITE FASHION.

When you have picked out the attorney who you are thinking about hiring, meet her/him in person. Ask her/him, if I hire you "What types of pre-trial motions do you think my type of case could benefit from?" EVEN IF YOU DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER - your potential attorney should know the answer. If the attorney you are interviewing doesn�t have an immediate answer, STOP, re-think where you are, and who you are talking to.

The question: "What types of pre-trial motions do you think my type of case could benefit from?" means that your attorney should be thinking of submitting special papers to the court, asking for any and all of the evidence the prosecution may have against you. There are special procedures for an aggressive defense attorney to use to attempt to suppress physical evidence and statements. Further, if the police have collected physical evidence against you in violation of your fourth amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure laws, such evidence might be suppressed. If, by hard work, diligence, and a little good fortune, your attorney gets enough of your case suppressed, there may not be enough evidence for the case to go forward to trial. Cases can and do get dismissed (thrown out of court) previous to the actual trial itself.

All things being equal, it is less wear, tear, and aggravation on the defendant when the case is closed out before it ever gets to the trial stage, as compared to going through a long, difficult trial and waiting for the jury to come back with a verdict in your favor.

How does a person shopping for a criminal trial attorney actually know the background and experience of the attorney he is talking to? ASK. It is not impolite to say to your potential attorney: "HAVE YOU EVER DEFENDED ON A RAPE CASE?" Or, "Have you ever had an armed robbery or embezzlement case before?"

Keep asking: "When was the last time that you had a trial? Was the case tried before a judge? Wasthe case tried before a jury?" Keep asking: "If I hire you, and we have a jury trial, do you know the process of getting rid of potential jurors who definitely do not look favorable to me and my case?"

THESE ARE THE KINDS OF QUESTIONS THAT YOU, AS THE DEFENDANT, SHOULD BE ASKING TO THE ATTORNEY YOU ARE INTERVIEWING. Listen closely to the answers that you are getting.

Ask the attorney that you are interviewing if there are guaranteed results. If the attorney says YES, it is time to pick up your hat, put it on, excuse yourself, and look for another person. Even the all-time famous criminal trial attorneys throughout history have never offered a guarantee. It just isn't done. The attorney that you are talking to should offer to work so hard that she will work up a sweat, put in many hours of research time, answer all of your questions, and put in half a dozen or more of pre-trial motions.

An accused person will have a greater likelihood of surviving his troubles with the law enforcement/legal system if he follows these basic ideas written above.

NEVER DEFEND YOURSELF.

HIRE AN ATTORNEY WITH COURTROOM EXPEREINCE (the more the better).

HIRE AN ATTORNEY WITH LOTS AND LOTS OF CRIMINAL TRIAL EXPERIENCE.

HIRE AN ATTORNEY WITH TONS AND TONS OF CRIMINAL JURY EXPERIENCE.

HIRE AN ATTORNEY WITH TRUCK-LOADS OF CRIMINAL DEFENSE EXPERIENCE IN YOUR PARTICULAR TYPE OF FELONY.

This will NOT guarantee perfect results. Nothing in a court of law is guaranteed. HOWEVER, creating odds that are more in your favor is what you should be reaching for.

Separator