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Top Secrets in Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer

The Top Secrets in Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer
By Glen R. Graham, Attorney at Law, Tulsa, OK
Phone: (918) 583-4621

1. At the initial consultation, your criminal defense lawyer is likely to tell you what you want to hear. "I believe in your innocence." This may very well be lip service to get you to hand over that check. Once the check is cashed, don't be surprised if your criminal defense lawyer starts singing a different tune. You should be aware that the amount of the fee, and the amount that you actually pay (and not promise to pay), ultimately, determines how much time the lawyer spends on the case. A oral fee contract is insufficient protection and how can you be sure of the fee or the price of a jury trial when the lawyer does not put it in writing. You should insist on a written agreement and if he will not give you one, you should shop around for another lawyer.

2. You generally get what you pay for and if you want the lawyer to really fight then you will have to pay an adequate fee to do it. If the lawyer quotes a suspiciously cheap fee, then don't be shocked after he cashes your check if he suddenly starts talking about a plea bargain deal to get the case over and done with. If you want a lawyer to really fight the case, you will have to pay adequate monies for it.

3. Few criminal defense lawyers have the confidence and experience to actually take a case to jury trial and win. Few lawyers actually anticipate going to jury trial so they don't tell you I am going to plead you out and not go to trial in your case. They know or fear that you would hire another lawyer if they told you this or they may really believe that you should plead out without discussing this with you. Asking a few questions, like when was your last jury trial and do you go to trial on many cases, will usually give you more specific knowledge about the lawyer. A lawyer that quotes too low a fee cannot afford to go to a jury trial and he may plan on withdrawing from your case later on once he determines that you will not accept a plea bargain or cannot afford to pay him for a jury trial. The lawyer may avoid quoting you the fee for a jury trial because he does not intend on going to a jury trial in your case.

4. You need a lawyer who is confident, attentive, and willing to work to win your case. If the lawyer you are talking to will not look you in the eye and fails to firmly shake your hand, you might want to shop around some more.

5. The worst thing is a criminal defense lawyer talking a client into a plea bargain deal when it is not in the clients' best interest. You do not want to accept any deals just because the lawyer has not been paid enough monies to fight your case. If only the lawyer had told you this to begin with, you could have borrowed the money or asked your family to help you. But, you didn’t ask enough questions and you assumed the lawyer would work hard for the amount you paid. Remember, you usually get what you pay for and if you don’t pay enough to fight the case then don’t be surprised by the result.

6. *TRUST* - The most important factor in hiring any lawyer is to hire a lawyer that you trust. Trust is not something you can exactly define or explain. Trust is more of a feeling that comes from deep down in the gut. It is something that comes from talking to the lawyer and looking him in the eye.

7. A former prosecutor may or may not be a good choice. A former prosecutor has spent time depersonalizing defendants and incarcerating them. However, it is possible for a former prosecutor to become an advocate for the defendant even if his heart is still that of a former prosecutor. It really just depends on the individual. But, just because the lawyer is a former prosecutor is not a reason to hire him. It is always going to be a question of "trust."

8. A referral from a bondsman to use a certain lawyer is not always a good thing. Sometimes the bondsman just wants the case over with quickly so they can write another bond and they may send you to a lawyer who will dispose of the case too quickly. Sometimes the bondsman may send you to a lawyer that they trust and know will instill confidence in you to show up for court and that has a good reputation for that area of the law.

9. Do weathly people accused of crimes hire the least expensive lawyers and/or former prosecutors to represent them. Most do not. Would "O.J. Simpson" have gotten the same result with a poor man's lawyer as he did with the "dream team" ?
You usually get about what you pay for and the more you pay, the harder the lawyer will work on your case. It sounds like common sense. This is not to say that a good lawyer will not work hard even when he has not been paid but the more you pay a person the more incentive there is to work hard. Everyone has bills to pay and to be able to pay your bills, you must get paid. Most people understand the rate of pay does affect the quality of the work.

1 comment:

Glen Graham said...
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