Criminal defense attorneys are highly trained professionals, like doctors. However, unlike doctors, your legal bills are unlikely to be paid by insurance. This is a huge distinction because it means that hundreds of criminal defense lawyers are competing for your business. As a consequence, all of us shout: “I’m the best! Hire me.” Pretty pathetic, I know.
So, how do you sort through the noise? For routine matters, it may not matter too much. For garden-variety cases, a garden-variety defense attorney may do. All lawyers are presumed competent, and most are competent for simple cases. However, for complex cases, like complex surgeries, you really do need the best criminal defense lawyer available. This is where your inquiry begins: Do I have a simple case or a complex case? If it is a simple case, your task is also simple. Simply find an affordable, experienced attorney you like. The rest should be pretty straightforward.
If, however, your case is serious and involves complex factual and legal issues, you need an attorney who understands those issues and has both the experience and ability to guide you through them. Again, your analysis breaks down to a couple of questions: 1) What is the attorney’s experience with the type of case you have? And 2) Does that attorney have the ability to represent you in the best way possible before the judge or jury that will be deciding your case?
You have to be a smart consumer. Ask questions, just as you would ask questions of a prospective surgeon. Don’t fall for slogans or billboards bragging about how tough they are. If they advertise themselves as snarling dogs, they probably are snarling dogs. If they claim insider knowledge based upon having been a cop or prosecutor, be wary because they are selling you a magical solution that does not exist. There simply is no substitute for experience, brains, and hard work; and anyone who tells you otherwise is a conspicuous fraud.
In short, if you hire someone on an impulse, you’re likely to be very disappointed. Instead, you have to ask questions:
- Have you handled this type of case before?
- How many times?
- Do you see your cases through to the conclusion, or do take your client’s money and then bail out after the preliminary hearing?
- How long do you expect this to last?
- How much will it cost?
- Do I need experts, or investigation?
- Where have you worked?
- Are you nationally recognized as one of the best attorneys in the country?
In law, covering the bases is called “due diligence.” Well, you, as the client, must perform “due diligence” in order to hire the best criminal defense attorney possible. Otherwise, you are leaving your future to chance. I welcome all of your questions; and I will have a few questions for you as well. I do not accept every case that comes through the door. I am selective because I have no shortage of business and the attorney-client relationship has to be based upon trust and mutual respect. Only when we totally believe in each other can we agree upon what victory looks like and achieve that goal.