Hiring a lawyer to defend you in a DUI case is stressful and challenging. The good news is there are very qualified firms in your local area and you should meet with a few of them before making your decision.
Experience Matters. The only way for young lawyers to get the right experience in how to successfully handle DUI cases is to either work for the District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office or the State Attorney’s Office. An attorney that has worked for one of these offices will have significant more training and courtroom experience in handling a DUI case. It is also important your lawyer spent a few years training in one of these offices, not just a few months in a summer internship.
Keeping it Local. Look for an attorney that actually handles the matter in the location where you case is. The Judges and prosecutors play a very important role in your DUI case as to its eventual resolution. Knowing how a Judge might rule on a certain issue, or how a prosecutor will respond to a certain argument, could be the different in getting your DUI dismissed or reduced to reckless driving. Also, knowing the various members of law enforcement in the specific jurisdiction can be helpful in cross examination.
Be certain that the attorney you intend to hire actually handles criminal cases. Don’t hire your divorce lawyer or the lawyer who drew up your will to handle your criminal case. You wouldn’t hire a brain surgeon to operate on your heart would you? Because criminal defense is a specialized field of law, you need to hire a lawyer who specializes in this particular field.
Avoid hiring a criminal attorney who promises you a specific outcome. It is impossible for a lawyer whom you have just met and who knows nothing about your case except what you have told him to tell you how your case will turn out with any degree of certainty.
If you are hiring a specific criminal lawyer to work on your case, make sure that that specific lawyer and not one of her associates is the lawyer who will actually be working on your case and going to court with you.
Hire a criminal attorney whom you feel comfortable working with after meeting him and discussing your case. Don’t hire a lawyer who is pressuring you to go to trial if your goal is to strike a satisfactory deal with the prosecutor as soon as possible. On the other hand, don’t hire a lawyer who is pressuring you to take a plea bargain if what you really want is a trial.
Be sure that the criminal lawyer you intend to hire has time to work on your case. If the lawyer you intend to hire is starting a month-long trial, he may not be the criminal lawyer best suited to represent you if your case requires a lot of work and your trial date is fast approaching.
If the criminal lawyer you intend to hire is quoting you a fee that is a lot more or a lot less than the going rate, ask yourself why. If the fee being quoted is a lot more than the going rate, is it because the lawyer is that much better than her competitors? If she is not that much better, than why should you pay that fee? On the other hand, if the fee being quoted is a lot less than the going rate, is it because the lawyer is just starting out and has little experience handling your particular type of criminal case? If so, you may want to look for another lawyer.