What kind of lawyer do you need?
There are many lawyers who will take a criminal case as part of their larger practice. Many family lawyers will dabble in criminal law, some general civil attorneys will take a DWI every now and then. What you want is a lawyer who practices criminal law full time and has the staff and resources to battle the DA's office. You need a lawyer who is focused solely on criminal defense, not as a hobby, or a side project, but as their main practice area. Criminal convictions last forever in Texas, so now is not the time to take a chance with the guy who drafted a will for a friend of yours once. You also need a lawyer with local experience. Kaufman County is different. Many Dallas lawyers will take a Kaufman County case, and find the process frustrating because what goes on at 100 W Mulberry Street is much different than the scene at Crowley. I know, I practice in both places, and while the laws are the same, the process is much different. Some things that work in Dallas, don't work here.
How do you find the right lawyer?
In the old days the referral was the number one method of finding a defense lawyer. People asked their friends and family who they would use, or who a good lawyer is. That is still a good place to start, but not to finish. The internet has made it much easier to sort through your options quickly. You are already on Avvo which gives you attorneys bios, reviews, and rankings. Look at an attorney's website and/or blog. Does this lawyer sound like someone who a) knows how to fight your case and b) you want to work with? Some people use the phone book to find an attorney, I would only recommend that as a last resort. What you want is a list of attorneys that you want to schedule a consultation with. Most defense lawyers offer free consultations. So why not visit a few?
What should I ask at a consultation?
You want to know what your lawyer's strategy is for your type of case and why that works in Kaufman County. So ask any attorney when is the last time they had a trial or set a case for trial in Kaufman? How many of these types of cases have the worked in Kaufman County? You want to know they have local experience with your type of case. Ask about their contract. Never hire an attorney without a contract. You need to know what you are paying for, and what other fees their may be. Most criminal defense lawyers offer a flat fee and do not bill hourly. Ask about their resources. Does this lawyer have a team to help fight your case? Does your lawyer use a private investigator, expert witnesses? Many defense lawyers are solo, and some cases can be too big for a solo to handle. Our firm has a team of defense lawyers and staff available to help litigate the toughest cases. Some cases can be too big (e.g. sexual assaults) for a solo attorney.
What about price?
If your lawyer charges less, you can expect them to have less time to dedicate to your case. There are some lawyers who have a volume practice, charging low fees but taking a lot of cases. That means there is less time for each individual case. If your case needs more attention, or you need more time to consult with your lawyer, that time may not be there with a volume practice. The volume model is based on getting simple cases done fast. If your case isn't simple, and you don't want to plead guilty without a fight, it may not work for you. Every defendant has a budget, but if you find a lawyer with a much lower rate, ask if they will still be able to spend time on your case should it get complicated, or how often they will be available for emails/consults/phone calls. I tell defendants to hire the best lawyer they can afford. Convictions last forever. The outcome of your case will affect the rest of your life and it is always worth investing in the right law fim.