How to Choose a San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer
How to Choose the Right Criminal Defense Lawyer for Your Case
(This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice, or a substitute for a consulting with an attorney concerning the specific facts of your case.)
Choosing the right criminal defense attorney for your criminal case is highly dependent on the type of case that you have pending, but there are several good rules of thumb. If you follow this advise you will have an easier time finding a criminal defense attorney that is right for your case. Not every attorney is right for your particular case, and not every criminal defense lawyer will be right for your case. Here is how you know that you have chosen the right lawyer.
Criminal Defense Experience
Everybody knows a lawyer, but not everybody knows a lawyer with criminal defense experience. More than 90% of all lawyers will NEVER step inside a courtroom in their lifetime. Criminal defense lawyers are a special type of lawyer who has particularized experience, knowledge and expertise in the areas of evidence, jury psychology, and criminal motion practice. A lawyer who has done many personal injury trials is not a lawyer that you should hire for criminal defense - a civil injury trial has many different evidentiary rules and procedures than does a criminal defense trial.
Experience with your type of criminal case
Just because an attorney has criminal defense experience does not mean they are right for your case. If you have a serious domestic violence charge, or a gang-related offense, you are not going to want to hire a criminal defense attorney who practices exclusively DUI law. Even though that DUI attorney may have hundreds of trials under their belt, they may not be right for your case because a DUI trial is very different from a homicide or fraud trial.
White collar attorneys are a special breed of criminal defense lawyer - they are marathon runners. While most criminal defense trials take less than a week to resolve (more than 95%), white collar trials take months, sometimes years before they are finally resolved. Hiring a sprinter, or somebody who has only done a few hundred 3 day trials is no substitute for an attorney who has experience trying cases that take months on end to complete.
No history of discipline by the state bar
The State Bar of California maitains disciplinary records for all attorneys, before you hire any attorney, double check their records on the State Bar of California website.
Simply type in your attorney's name, and their disciplinary history will be at the bottom of their state bar profile. Some attorneys may have suspensions on their record. Others may be temporarily suspended for not paying their state bar dues. Even though not paying bar dues is a minor offense, it does bring into question whether that person really wants to be a lawyer... or your lawyer.
Willing to work within your budget
I'll be the first to admit that my fees sound outrageous when you first hear them. $250/hour is an absurd rate for nearly any profession. However, most of my cases are handled by flat fee arrangements, limiting the amount of money a person will have to pay to have their issue adjudicated. I am always willing to work within my client budget because I look forward to the opportunity to help people resolve their criminal matter.
Someone you are willing to trust
Most importantly, make sure that you feel your attorney is somebody you can trust. It can be very difficult to trust somebody immediately, but trust your gut instinct. Look out for flashy distractions such as an expensive looking conference room table or attractive legal secretaries... if your attorney can look you in the eye and give you a sense of calm about your situation, that is a good sign.
BEWARD OF ANY ATTORNEY WHO GUARANTEES AN OUTCOME FOR A CRIMINAL CASE - THIS IS A MAJOR ETHICS VIOLATION.
No criminal defense attorney should ever guarantee a particular result - no matter how routine or simple your criminal matter is. It is an issue of ethics - without which, finding a criminal defense attorney would feel a lot more like buying a used car.