Make sure your attorney has an active DUI defense practice
SOME retainers do not include trial. Some of the trial information MAY BE buried in fine print in the retainer agreement. You MAY also get a ton of excuses as to why you should not go to trial even if the lawyer knows nothing about the case, such as: you are guaranteed to lose... they can get you a great offer (they do not know without seeing your report and case file)... they will get the case dismissed (again, unless they are psychic, who knows?). Some attorneys will tell you anything just to get your money and then plead you guilty immediately. It is a great deal for the attorney but terrible for the client.
There is always a chance to plea bargain, but if you later determine that a plea is not in your best interest, you need an attorney that goes to trial.
There MAY NOT be a downside to going to trial. The retainer agreement should say that the lawyer you have chosen will do the trial, if necessary.
In most jurisdictions, a real DUI attorney can ask for an indicated sentence on the record and the judge typically gives the standard offer.
Some judges will even tell you what the consequences will be if convicted at trial or your attorney may have been to trial before that Judge and have an idea or this information may be obtained from others in the DUI community.
If you determine a trial is in your best interest after knowing what the judge will do in the event of a conviction, you may have nothing to lose by going to trial.
Always get references!!!
There are many "law firms" that are what those in the legal community refer to as "mills" or "dumptrucks" that sign clients up and just plead them guilty immediately with no evaluation and no consideration of investigation, discovery and potential consequences of trial.
Also, if you hire the Law Offices of John Doe to do the trial, the retainer better say that John Doe is doing the case and trial, not some flunky he hired off the internet. Lawyer do hire flunkies off the internet and outsource cases to incompetent attorneys they have never met. It happens all the time. The attorney signs you up, takes a huge cut and sends you off to a flunky & pockets the money. You get a flunky!
Attorneys with Passion for their work and varied experience
I have experience in many practice areas and I have never seen as much passion as I do in DUI and Criminal Defense attorneys. I work with attorneys in many practice areas, but they do not have the same passion Criminal Defense attorneys (sorry friends). We are the only ones who take on the government prosecutors with unlimited resources, including sheriff's, police, experts, investigators, crime labs, money, unlimited attorneys and unlimited money (the taxpayer's money) and we are proud to be the David taking on Goliath. We are the only ones whose services are guaranteed to anyone regardless of their financial status. Try to find attorneys with that passion for their craft.
Gerry Spence, probably the greatest living trial lawyer, practiced both criminal and civil law and had a passion for both. I think his experience in trying both civil and criminal cases was a great asset. You may find that attorneys with varied experience may be better for you.
Beware of the big advertisers with big names, does the big name actually work the case?
Some firms use the name of a famous attorney that has not practiced in years and has nothing to do with the firm. They merely sell the name of the firm or famous attorney who is no longer even practicing or doing trials. Always get the name of the attorney handling the case.
These firms sell tickets to a Michael Jackson Concert and have Tito show up to sign.
A good way to spot them is ask who will handle the case if it goes to trial. Is the name the name the same as the name of the law office.
For example, if you call the Law Offices of Michael Smith, and ask who will do your trial if you choose to have one, does the contract say it is Michael Smith in Black and White? If not, it is suspect, UNLESS YOU WERE NOT RELYING ON THE BIG NAME WHEN SELECTING AN ATTORNEY.
This is general information not geared to everyone and every situation, it varies by County, on an experienced DUI Attorney can tell you what is best
You need to speak to an experience DUI Attorney in your area who knows how your County works. This is not one-size-fits-all-advice.
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Good lawyers aren't cheap, cheap lawyers aren't good.