TOP 5 Things Most Criminal Defense Attorneys Don’t Want you to Know
Getting arrested can be a traumatic experience. Hiring a Defense attorney doesn't have to be. This guide gives you information that Most criminal defense attorneys don't want you to know prior to hiring them. Let it help you make the right decision in hiring the Right Attorney.
1) A FREE CONSULTION IS NOT A CONSULTATIONPractically all criminal defense legal advertisements that I have seen offer a free consultation. What the attorney doesn't want to tell you is that the "free consultation" is simply an advertisement for their services. If you expect your "free consultation" with the attorney to come with legal advice on how to handle your case by yourself, you will be disappointed.
While most Civil attorneys charge a consultation fee as a matter of regular of business, this is because they bill on an hourly rate. It is most common for criminal defense attorneys to bill clients a flat rate based on the type of charge(s) you have. So, the consultation you have with a criminal attorney is geared towards getting you to retain them as opposed to giving you free advice. There is nothing wrong with this as no one wants to tell you how you should handle your case without getting paid for it. Therefore, most of the time a free consultation deals with the attorney assuring you they have handled your type of charge before, and that they feel confident they can help you.
During your "free consultation" some attorneys will let you think they have gone to extreme lengths to get your police report. However, in many jurisdictions criminal attorneys have access to the clerk's website to download your report for free. Don't get me wrong, it is the right thing to do to review the arrest report during your consultation, but don't think that a lawyer has bent over backwards to give you information that is readily available.
2) TIME IS OF NOT NECESSARILY OF THE ESSENCEAnother common phrase that is used to prompt action is "time is of the essence." After someone has been arrested, their first hearing is usually 30 days from the arrest date and it is called an arraignment. Unless someone is being held without bond, or is in custody and need a bond lowered, there will not be a court date prior to the arraignment. Anybody can find an attorney within that 30 days without too much stress if they do their research and consultations right away.
While some arrests will not result in charges being filed, it is important to take your case seriously and not delay action. In some circumstances, there are reasons why time is of the essence. For instance, in a DUI case you may have license issues that must be handled within 10 days of an arrest.
What is important to understand is that you should not feel pressured into making a hiring decision because you believe "time is of the essence." You should hire the right attorney for you. Even if you appear at arraignment without a lawyer, you can always ask the judge for time to retain counsel. Most judges are very liberal in giving defendants time to hire an attorney. That being said, you do not want to wait so long that you run out of continuances.
3) THERE MAY BE A PRE-TRIAL PROGRAMMany attorneys do not want a prospective client to know there may be a pretrial intervention program available for them. A pretrial intervention program typically results in the dismissal of a case prior to trial in exchange for the defendant's participation in court approved activities such as community service hours, drug programs, anger management, antitheft courses, and sometimes therapy. Usually, pretrial programs are offered with a 1st time offense of petit theft, possession of marijuana, trespassing, and disorderly conduct.
Often attorneys don't want a potential client to know that this may be an option out of fear that they may lose the "sale." Even worse, they don't want a prospective client to know a program is available as to make it look like they did something extraordinary that wouldn't necessarily happen if they weren't hired. Not all cases can have a pretrial program, however an experienced attorney in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred should know if a program is typically available and make prospective clients aware of it.
4) NO ATTORNEY WILL GET SPECIAL FAVORSAnother "sales tactic" I see attorneys use in advertising their services is to let you know they were a "former prosecutor." I think it's a great thing for attorneys to explain their experience with the law. However, a lot of times the "former prosecutor" likes to blur the lines with a potential client to let them know he or she still knows all the other prosecutors. This may give a potential client a false sense of security that this particular attorney has an in with his former office. If an attorney gives someone that indication it is not only unethical, it is showing that they lack the skills of being a criminal defense attorney to handle your case properly.
I have also heard stories from clients who have interviewed other attorneys stating Joe Blow attorney "knows" the Judge. I would be quite skeptical of any attorney who states they "know" the Judge as an indicator that you will get a better outcome by selecting them as your attorney. To a certain degree, we all know the judges in the jurisdictions that we practice law because we are in front of the judges so often. But, the attorney who inferences that you will get a better result because they know the judge personally is again being unethical or showing they lack the skills it takes to be a quality criminal defense attorney.
Please keep in mind that judges and prosecutors are under scrutiny as well, and are governed by the Florida Bar. If you are told by an attorney that he or she gets special favors from a prosecutor or a judge, you should probably report that judge or prosecutor.
5) HOW AND WHO WILL BE WORKING YOUR CASE?When I was a rookie attorney, I worked for a high-volume criminal defense firm. At one time, our firm had 600 open cases. There were five attorneys handling these cases. A common statement I heard in court from clients was - "Who are you? I hired Mr. Smith." The reason I heard this was because although "Mr. Smith" was the attorney who sat in the office as the face of the firm, he did not go to court, rarely tried a case, and his job was simply to bring business into the law firm's door.
All too often, I found myself explaining to clients that I had never met before that either I was covering their case for the day, or truly was the one working on their case. With so many cases it would be impossible for "Mr. Smith" to be at every court appearance. There is nothing wrong with sending an associate counsel to cover a case hearing, especially if it does not involve any type of evidentiary matter. This happens quite frequently because the courts do not check our schedules before sitting court dates.
Where the big problem lies is when some firms have a face of the firm that does not actually go to court, or argue the case. Many firms don't want to let you know that associate attorneys will be the ones handling your matter. Make sure before hiring any attorney that you know specifically who is handling your case. You should meet with them and discuss your case.
Another thing attorneys do not want to tell you is how your case is going to be handled. Many defendants want the criminal process to be over as quickly as possible. While being a defendant can put so many limitations on your life, it is important not to rush your case. Some attorneys do not fully explain that even a simple misdemeanor can go on for over a year before coming to a resolution. It is important that the attorney you choose can give you at least a rough estimate on how long your case will take.
How long your case can take may be determined on whether or not the attorney is going to take depositions, and how many depositions they're going to take. Lastly, attorneys do not like to tell you what the expenses are going to be on your case. Most retainer fee agreements will let you know in addition to your legal fee, that there are costs associated with litigation such as subpoenas, court reporters, and deposition transcripts. The reason attorneys often do not discuss these potential expenses is out of fear that a client will hear these costs and walk out the door.