What are some red flags that a lawyer isn't comfortable going to bat for us with such a serious criminal case?

Charges include: 1 943.32(1)(a) Robbery with Use of Force Felony E 2 943.10(2)(d) Burglary-Commit a Battery on Person Felony E And second case; 940.19(2) Substantial Battery-Intend Bodily Harm Felony I 2 940.19(2) Substantial Battery-Intend Bodily Harm Felony I 3 943.01(1) Criminal Damage to Property Misd. A 4 946.49(1)(a) Bail Jumping-Misdemeanor Misd. A 5 943.14 Criminal Trespass to Dwelling Misd. A 6 943.01(1) Criminal Damage to Property Misd. A We currently have hired a lawyer but I havnt heard anything in weeks since the prelim, wasn't satisfied she is going to fight her heart out for us; what are some questions we could ask to assure she is comfortable with the severity of this case?

Oshkosh, WI -

Attorney Answers (9)

John Scott Swimmer

John Scott Swimmer

DUI / DWI Attorney - Shorewood, WI
Answered

Often legal work seems invisible. You should contact your attorney and ask for copies of motions or documents that he or she has or will file on your behalf. State your expectations and concerns.
Give your attorney a chance to explain and provide answers. Most attorney will call you within 24 hours unless they are on vacation or otherwise unavailable. Since the holidays are over start by calling your attorney.

This is not intended as legal advice. It is only provided for educational purposes and cannot be relied upon as... more
Andrew Joel Golden

Andrew Joel Golden

Criminal Defense Attorney - Milwaukee, WI
Answered

For starters, I'm not sure what you mean by "us." A lawyer is beholden to the client facing the charges, not the client and his or her family. Even if you're the one who paid, even if you care about this criminal defendant more than anyone else in the world, the fact remains that the only person that the lawyer can really talk to about the case is the defendant himself or herself. Now, pragmatically, most clients don't have an issue letting their family members in on what's going on, and most lawyers don't mind filling family members in. But until the client consents to it -- and some lawyers want it in writing to be safe -- the lawyer can't talk to third parties.

As for the case, in a lot of counties the State doesn't give the lawyer discovery -- the police reports, photos, audio and video, etc. -- until the first court appearance after the preliminary hearing. As an example, I practice primarily in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties; in Milwaukee, I get the discovery right at the preliminary hearing, whereas in Waukesha I have to make a formal request for it half the time before I get it. So it's entirely possible the lawyer is still waiting on getting anything from the State before he or she talks to you about how to best move forward. I certainly wouldn't want to speculate on a case as serious as the one you described -- which has a combined maximum penalty of 37 years in the Wisconsin State Prison system (incarceration and parole combined) for the felonies and another 3 years of incarceration available for the misdemeanors) -- without knowing more about what the State has to prosecute with. But aside from that, there's always a misconception -- as others have stated here -- that if you're not making loud flashy statements you're not working on the case at all, and that's just not true.

If you're concerned about your lawyer's handling of the case, here's what I'd do: Call her and ask to set an appointment in her office to talk about the status of the case. Ask her if the client (assuming it's not you) has given her permission to talk about the case with you; if he or she hasn't, then talk to that person and ask them why. Then, when you sit down with the lawyer, just ask her what the status of the case is right now and how she anticipates moving forward with the case. If there's something you don't understand, ask her to clarify. Go in there with an open mind, and just listen to what she's saying. Only you can decide if you feel she's on the right path or not, but, again, assuming you feel she isn't, if you're not the client you can't fire her, even if you paid the money; only the client can fire her.

Nicholas C. Zales

Nicholas C. Zales

Litigation Lawyer - Milwaukee, WI
Answered

I agree with Atty. Swimmer. Call him/her up and ask what they are doing about this case. if you do not receive a satisfactory answer, you might want to consider other counsel.

Chadwick J. Kaehne

Chadwick J. Kaehne

Criminal Defense Attorney - Neenah, WI
Answered

You are always free to hire an attorney of your choosing. You are never locked into an attorney-client relationship forever. Good luck.

Michael Evan Greenspan

Michael Evan Greenspan

DUI / DWI Attorney - Boca Raton, FL
Answered

I agree with what Attorney Swimmer has written. You need to have an in-person meeting with your attorney and have a detailed discussion about case strategy and your attorney's experience in handling felony matters. Your attorney should explain to you what she knows about the Prosecutor's office and the position that will likely be taken on plea bargaining. Give your attorney the opportunity to hear your concerns and explain how these concerns will be addressed. If you are not completely satisfied at the end of the meeting, then you should contact your local county bar association for a referral to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you.

Finally, please be sure to discuss your immigration status with your attorney if you are not a United States Citizen. This will have a significant impact upon any possible disposition of your case.

Good Luck

Chris Matthew Limberopoulos

Chris Matthew Limberopoulos

Medical Malpractice Attorney
Answered

You need to post this in the criminal/violent crime forum.

Michael Taylor Meehan

Michael Taylor Meehan

Criminal Defense Attorney - San Francisco, CA
Answered

There are no specific "red flags" that would make a client not work on your case. Some attorney's do not take certain cases, but once they know the charges they will let you know they are not the correct attorney for that case.

If you don't feel your attorney is representing you, you may not know what they are doing. A lot of criminal defense is done in the office. Researching the facts and the law in the case to prepare a defense and/or discussions with the prosecutor to get the charges dismissed and/or reduced.

I would suggest you call your attorney and ask her if she is prepared for the PreLim? and what other information she needs from you. Explain to her that you are unfamiliar with the process and you would like her to explain it to you.

Good luck.

Manuel Alzamora Juarez

Manuel Alzamora Juarez

Car / Auto Accident Lawyer - Berkeley, CA
Answered

I addition to the Holidays and the investigation that the attorney must perform, there is usually the issue of attorney fees. Make sure your attorney understands that you will pay your fees promptly and to explain what are your options. Hopefully, you were referred to your attorney by someone you trust and that the attorney is a criminal defense attorney. Preferably an Ex. D.A. If you are not satisfied, change lawyers. Best of luck.

This answer is provided by Manuel A. Juarez, Esq., El Abogado de Accidentes de Autos de California: 510-206-4492.... more
George A. Limbeck

George A. Limbeck

Criminal Defense Attorney - Sheboygan, WI
Answered

I agree with Attorney Swimmer. Contact your lawyer (whether by phone or email) and schedule an appointment. I have represented people accused of crimes all over the state. The biggest determination of when it makes sense to meet with a client after the Preliminary Examination is when did your attorney receive discovery from the District Attorney's Office. If varies from county to county. Also, in the meetings you had prior to the Preliminary Examination, did you discuss what would happen and when? If you did, and the "no contact" period you've described is inconsistent with what was discussed, I would be more worried and be more agressive in my efforts to contact and meet with your attorney.

It is my practice at that meeting right after the Preliminary Examination, or Initial Appearance in misdemeanor matters, to tell my client's "If you dont hearing from me" within a certain time frame that they should contact me.

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