Most people hope to avoid being on the defensive side of the criminal justice system in their lifetimes, but sadly, many individuals are unsuccessful in this wish. Fortunately, our judicial branch has a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and this means that anyone charged with a crime, whether it be DUI or manslaughter, has the right to a strong defense. For the best defense, though, it’s necessary to find a good attorney. Luckily, there are a few specific things that a person can look for when choosing a legal professional.
1. Education: There are over 200 law schools in America approved by the American Bar Association, but they’re definitely not all equal. Inquiring about an attorney’s education isn’t an affront to a lawyer, and if it is taken as such, there may be even more reason to question their education credentials.
2. Related Experience: Finding an experienced attorney isn’t all that’s required in finding the right attorney. An attorney may win hundreds of cases a year, but if a person is charged with a DUI and the potential lawyer has never handled a DUI case, it’s likely that they’re not the right choice. It’s important to ensure that a defense attorney has experience in the crime in question.
3. Certification: While it’s not done everywhere in America, certain areas do offer certifications for attorneys. These certifications mean that a lawyer has undergone extensive training in a certain area of law in addition to what is normally expected of legal professionals.
4. Main Attorney: It’s also important to find out who the main attorney will be on a case. In far too many instances, a person will meet with an experienced attorney for their initial consultation only to find out later that a junior attorney at the firm will be handling their case. This makes it essential to ask exactly who will be overseeing the litigation.
5. Good Communication: A potential client should also ask their potential attorney who they’ll mostly be dealing with. This could range from anyone from the attorney themselves to a paralegal. A person should ensure that they’re comfortable with this answer before going forward.
6. Possible Outcomes: An experienced attorney will also be able to inform a person of the potential outcomes of their case. In the case of a DUI, for example, a person could be found not guilty and released, the charges could be dropped or they could be found guilty and face fines, jail and license suspension. A person should ask the attorney what they think the most likely outcome will be. According to one DUI law firm, an attorney “can tell you if you have a legal challenge or if the police have violated your rights after they have an opportunity to investigate your case.”
7. Best Communication Method: If an individual is leaning towards a certain attorney, they need to inquire about the best way to communicate with the professional. The answer to this could end up being phone calls, emails or even letters. It’s important for the individual to feel comfortable with this answer as well.
8. Billing Assurances: Legal billing can be complex, and this is why it should be discussed before hiring an attorney. Will there be a flat fee to handle the case or will the lawyer charge hourly. How will portions of an hour be billed? Will emails or phone calls count towards billed time? These are all important things to find out.
Choosing the right attorney is essential. Even crimes that occur as frequently as DUIs, which number around 1.4 million arrests yearly, will require an experienced attorney to provide the best defense. Luckily, even in cases where the evidence seems insurmountable, such as Breathalyzer results, a good attorney can poke holes into the prosecution’s case. In the end, simply knowing the right things about an attorney can mean the difference between conviction and exoneration.