Selecting a Lawyer - Do I need a Doer or a Fixer

Posted almost 5 years ago. Applies to New Jersey, 1 helpful vote

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1

Do I want a Fixer? Someone who can get me the lowest plea from this situation?

In order for you to understand the possible dispositions available to you, you and your lawyer need to discuss what you actually did, and what you didn't do. Your lawyer cannot provide you with competent legal advice without you telling the lawyer the truth about what you did do. Without this basic information, the legal advice you are seeking is worthless, even though you are still paying for it. Once you and your lawyer have discussed what you actually did, the lawyer can assess the State's case and advise you of the possible outcomes that you are facing. Often there are alternatives, such as a reduced charge, a reduced sentence, or a diversionary program you may be eligible for. Ask your lawyer what the possible sentences can be, and make sure you understand both the direct and collateral sentencing consequences of each disposition. Direct consequences, such as jail or a fine, are often reduced, but are sometimes not as significant as the collateral consquences. Talk to your lawyer.

2

Do I want a Doer? Someone who understands the charge, and can prepare the defense of my case?

As an alternative to 'fixing' the charge to get you the lowest disposition possible, given the facts of your case and the charges you are facing, you need to be discussing with your lawyer what will happen if this case goes to trial. What are the legal issues that can be argued to lessen the chances of conviction? Are there any viable Motions that can be made to suppress the evidence? What investigation can be done to find evidence to support the defense? Understanding the process of how a criminal case moves through the Courts is essential for both you and your lawyer. Talk to your lawyer, ask why the case is being adjourned - which will mean you needing to take another day off from work. What is the legal benefit to you, that the lawyer is working towards in your case when the lawyer makes a request for an adjournment? What can be done to strengthen the defense to either get a better plea, or a dismissal? How will these Motions affect the potential dispositions available to you?

3

Do I want a lawyer who knows how to fix what can be fixed, but knows how to defend me at trial?

If all else fails, the Court will not dismiss the charge, the Motions did not suppress the evidence, the deals the prosecutor will agree to or the Court will approve are unacceptable to you - then what? What is the lawyer prepared to do? How many trials has the lawyer taken through to a verdict in the past year or two? How many were of a similar nature to your type of case? How long was the jury deliberating? What were the verdicts? If there was a conviction, was the lawyer able to develop strong issues during the trial for an appeal? What does the lawyer see as a possible 'theory of the case' that he will be using in his opening statement? Does the lawyer read the statement to the jury, or speak extemporaneously and try to develop a connection with the jury from the beginning of the trial. In order for you to select the best lawyer for your case, you need to be thinking from the beginning, 'What's the win?' and if that dosn't work, what are the alternatives.

Additional Resources

NJ Criminal Defense

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