In South Florida, namely Miami-Dade and Broward County, there are literally hundreds of criminal lawyers to choose from. You may find criminal lawyers on the Internet, you may find them in court, or you may find them through referrals from friends or relatives. Either way, when choosing the right criminal defense lawyer to represent you or your loved one, you need to be aware of a few things. Like all professions, there are both good and not-so-good attorneys out there. When your freedom is at stake, you need to be confident that you are retaining the most qualified attorney for your case. In doing so, you must look for the following red flags. If any of these are present, you need to be cautious. Hiring a bad, negligent, or unprofessional criminal defense attorney could be the difference between winning and losing your case. There are plenty of people serving prison sentences right now due to ineffective assistance of counsel.
10 Things To Be Aware Of When Hiring A Criminal Defense Attorney
Posted By Eric Matheny
When hiring a South Florida criminal defense attorney in Miami-Dade or Broward County, be aware of the following. If you can answer "yes" to any of these questions, you may want to find a different attorney.
1) Your bail bondsman conditioned your bond upon the hiring of a certain criminal defense attorney, or otherwise forced, pressured, or coerced you into hiring a particular attorney.
2) Your criminal defense attorney is quoting a fee significantly less than most other attorneys you have spoken to.
3) Your criminal defense attorney has been disciplined by the Florida Bar in the past. While it may be something minor, you still have a right to know. You can visit the Florida Bar's webpage to see if your attorney or prospective attorney has a clean Bar record. All information about attorney discipline is public record.
4) Your criminal defense attorney doesn't give you his or her personal cell phone number. While this may not be a huge red flag, it may be a sign of an inaccessible attorney. While I believe that boundaries must be established and you shouldn't call your criminal defense attorney at midnight on a Saturday unless it's a life-or-death emergency, you should still have the ability to contact your attorney at all times.
5) The only time you talk to your attorney is when you see him or her in court. A good criminal defense attorney should keep in phone contact with his or her clients to keep them informed.
6) Nobody has heard of your attorney. When you hire a criminal attorney, don't be afraid to ask other criminal attorneys what they think of that person. Your attorney doesn't have to be a big-name celebrity lawyer, but others in their field should at least know who they are.
7) You have heard negative feedback about your attorney from more than one person. To make matters worse, the feedback is consistent. Negative feedback from one person should be taken with a grain of salt. You can't please everybody and you are bound to find somebody who doesn't think highly of your attorney. However, if more than one person offer the same negative comments about your lawyer, then chances are you may have a problem lawyer on your hands.
8) Your attorney is unclear about his or her fee and what it entails. I hear from many people who tell me that their attorneys sprung sudden fees on them, even after they had paid their attorney lots of money! You should know upfront what your attorneys fee will cover. If it costs extra to take a case to trial, so be it, but you should know that upfront. A defense attorney should never whisper to their client as the jury is walking in, "By the way, this is gonna be an extra five-thousand bucks."
9) Your attorney does not have you sign an agreement. This is a significant red flag because it means that there is no clear, mutual understanding as to what the representation entails. Is the fee broken down in the agreement? Is trial included in the fee? Are costs and expenses additional? Is an appeal or retrial included? If you don't have an agreement you just don't know.
10) Your attorney has made you promises or guarantees about the outcome of your case. Not only is it impossible to promise or guarantee an outcome, but it is unethical. The only promise or guarantee a criminal defense attorney should ever make to you is that they will apply all of their skill, knowledge, and experience toward your matter.
By no means are these the only red flags to look for, but they are what I consider to be some of the more important. The truth is, you may be interviewing many candidates for the job of your criminal attorney. And truthfully, we all want it. This is a business and we make our living defending our clients. But even if your attorney has stellar credentials, if you don't feel comfortable with them, then don't hire them.
I welcome further discussion on this matters. I am happy to talk about your case. I represent clients charged with nearly every misdemeanor and felony offense, from DUI to drug trafficking (marijuana, cocaine, oxycodone, alprazolam, methamphetamine, etc...), to armed robbery, grand theft, and murder.
Call my office today to discuss your case.