If you just received a criminal or drunk driving charge and you are unsure what your next steps are, you are not alone. Most people that find themselves facing drunk driving or criminal charges are confused, scared, and they do not know who they can turn to for help. Let's face it, most people do not go around and advertise their DUI arrest. So, what do you do when you get a criminal or drunk driving charge for the first time?
The first question you may have is “Do I need a lawyer for my criminal or drunk driving case?” So, what do you look for when trying to decide what attorney is right for you?
When you are first charged with a crime, you need to get some solid legal advice from experienced lawyer. You want to make sure you find a lawyer that you can trust and will work for you when defending you in court or at DMV. Here are some 17 tips when contacting a criminal or DUI lawyer for the first time:
1. Does the criminal or drunk driving lawyer have any disciplinary action with the state bar? This is extremely important when determining if the lawyer is honest and trustworthy. If the attorney has been found to cheated clients out of money, then you should keep searching for a lawyer.
2. As in any industry, there are good and bad attorneys. In many cases, you get what you pay for, but you want good quality representation. Attorneys that advertise extremely low prices should be avoided like the plague. These attorneys will normally do one of two things. They will either do little to no work for you or they will tell you the low price but later one you will be charged a significantly higher fee than the advertised price.
3. Does the attorney have a local phone number and local office where you can meet to discuss your case? If you are meeting the lawyer at a local Starbucks, you may want to think twice about hiring this lawyer.
4. Does the defense lawyer practice in the county where you received the criminal charges? If not, continue to look for a local lawyer that not only understands the courts, but knows the prosecutors that are trying to put you in jail. When an attorney has a good relationship with the judges and lawyers that will be involved in your case, then you stand a good chance that the attorney has a good relationship.
5. Most DUI attorneys offer a free consultation. Take advantage of the free consultation. Some driving under the influence lawyers will require you to come into their office, and you may think this is just a ploy. But it can actually be to your benefit. It is important that your potential lawyer get to know you and what you expect out of the attorney-client relationship. What better way to get to know your attorney than to meet with your lawyer face-to-face?
6. When you first contact the attorney’s office, you should pay attention to the person answering the phone. Is the attorney answering his or her own phone? If so, will this criminal lawyer be around tomorrow? Is the person on the phone professional, friendly, and helpful?
7. When you first call, do not expect a quote without discussing the case with the attorney. This will only lead to disappointment. In criminal and drunk driving cases, it is difficult to give a fair price without knowing what work is required. If you expect a fair and reasonable price for your case, then you must be willing to give the attorney the chance to understand your case, your goals, and your expectations surrounding the charges against you.
8. Before attending your free consultation, you should ask yourself and be prepared to tell the lawyer the issues you have with your case as well as any personal issues that may cause you problems when dealing with your case.
9. Before meeting the lawyer at the free consultation, you should also think about how you want to handle your case. For example, do you want to resolve your criminal matter quickly? Do you want a jury trial? Do you feel the police violated your rights?
10. At your consultation, be honest with the lawyer when you tell your case. Assume the attorney will be your future lawyer and tell the truth. The hardest thing for a lawyer to defend is a dishonest client. Being untruthful only makes your attorney work harder and you and your lawyer may lose credibility with the judge and the prosecutor.
11. You should determine what the consequences are to your drunk driving or criminal case are. You should not only ask if it is possible to get the charges dropped, but you should be ready to listen to the possible penalties involved with your criminal charges. Will there be fines, jail time, community service, DUI programs, or other requirements that the judge will order?
12. You should ask about plea bargaining and what the process is for your DUI or criminal case. You should also learn about the consequences of going to trial, filing motions, and other ways to resolve your charges short of going to trial. By obtaining information, the more your attorney will be able to help you achieve your ultimate goals for resolving your case.
13. When obtaining your quote, you should also determine what work will be included in this price. Does the price include a trial? If so, do you want a trial? Does it include filing motions? If so, do you want motions? Does it include a DMV hearing when it comes to DUI cases? By ensuring that you are getting the services you need, you should make sure to ask these questions before signing any contract.
14. Is the lawyer using scare tactics to induce you into paying for his or her services? Is the criminal lawyer requiring you to pay him or her right away? Is the attorney willing to give you time to decide if you want to retain the lawyer? As attorneys, our job is to convince you of our positions, but an attorney that is confident in their services will allow you to decide if you want to retain the attorney.
15. Lawyers are notorious for charging amounts that are not realistic and should be viewed with suspicion. Attorneys are ego driven and they feel they are worth more than they actually are, so be mindful of this fact when seeking out any lawyer.
16. Remember, most attorneys will understand that you are not familiar with the system and they should be work with you to devise a defense.
17. Once you have found the right attorney for you, it is extremely important to listen to your DUI attorney because you are paying good money for his or her advice. You may pay thousands of dollars for the attorney’s expertise, but if you are not willing to take the advice that is given, then you are wasting your time and money.
If you need advice on your criminal case and want an experienced drunk driving, criminal, or traffic lawyer that will take the time to explain the process to you, explain your options, and work hard for your money, then contact our office to discuss your case at a free consultation. We want you alleviate your concerns and make sure you have realistic expectations regarding your matter. We will do what you need to defend the charges against you and to get you back to your life.