Five Things You Should Know Before Hiring A Criminal Defense Attorney
Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale discusses five things that you should know before hiring a criminal defense lawyer.
Criminal Defense Is ComplexSomeone has been charged with a crime. They either work out a deal or roll the dice by going to trial, right? Wrong.
It's not that simple. Defending a person charged with a crime can be very complex. Facts will differ from case to case. Two people can be charged with the same kind of crime - say burglary, for example, - but attacking each of the charges will differ. There is no cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to criminal defense.
Criminal law is complicated and not always clear-cut. A great criminal defense attorney will evaluate the facts and circumstances of your case and counsel you on the best approach to take. Even if a person admits to his or her attorney that they did what they are charged with, there may be a way out. That way out may be getting the charge reduced or an out-right dismissal before trial. An experienced attorney can help you navigate through the legal complexities of criminal law.
The Right Kind of Experience MattersI*ve been practicing for nearly two decades. But the length experience alone does not make for a great criminal defense attorney. The RIGHT kind of experience does.
Some attorneys practice "door law" - they'll take whatever case comes through their door. Other attorneys focus on areas of law such as business law, family law, or personal injury law. That*s great if you have a contract dispute, need a divorce, or have been hurt in a car wreck. But when it comes to being charged with a crime, you want someone who focuses on criminal defense.
Think about it. Would you hire a real estate lawyer to handle your DUI case? Of course not. You'd want someone who concentrates on criminal defense.
But the right kind of experience includes more than just concentrating on a specific area of law. When it comes to criminal defense, you want someone who has actual TRIAL experience. But what if you don*t want to go to trial? Do you still need an attorney with trial experience? Yes. Here*s why. A lot of preparation goes into trial work. That preparation includes pre-trial defenses. Much of pre-trial work comes in the form of filing motions. Motions are formal requests to a judge to make a decision concerning an issue in a case.
Typically, motions that I file include motions to: dismiss a charge; to keep out certain evidence that the prosecutor wants a judge or jury to see or hear; to make the DA*s office hand over copies of the evidence it has against my client; to make the DA*s office hand over evidence that may tend to show that my client is not guilty, or that may lessen the severity of the charge or sentence; and to make law enforcement agencies hand over certain evidence * also including evidence that may tend to show that my client is not guilty, or that may lessen the severity of the charge or sentence.
Knowledge MattersExperience without knowledge is like building a house out of sand - it will crumble away and be of no use. The law is ever changing. It's important to hire an attorney who keeps abreast of the law.
While every attorney is required to take continuing education courses every year, I attend seminars and conferences focused on criminal law, including updates on new statutes and case law, as well as defense tactics and strategies. And, throughout the year, I keep abreast of new legal opinions issued by state and federal appellate courts.
Criminal Defense Takes WORKUnfortunately, some attorneys don't put their heart into their work. Instead, they take the path of least resistance and do "just enough" to get by. Or, they're not willing to go the extra mile to put on a vigorous defense for their clients; they'd rather just plead out their clients.
If you are charged with a crime, you need an attorney who will work hard for you. A criminal conviction can have serious consequences. Your life, freedom, livelihood, and reputation are at stake.
Criminal Defense Is A Team EffortWhile a criminal defense attorney will take the lead in handling your case, it takes a team to put on a great defense. That often involves the attorney and client working hand-in-hand with the case. Family members, coworkers, and friends may also be useful in your matter.
When I first meet with a client, I prepare a defense strategy plan. It*s a custom-made document tailored just for your case that gives a general outline of how we*ll work to get the best result for you. I also give the client "homework" to do. It often involves compiling a list of potential witnesses, documents, digital or electronic data, computer files, etc.