Look, let's get real here: Hiring a criminal or DUI lawyer is a topic no one is excited to learn about. Unfortunately, things happen and being prepared as best you can beforehand is the best strategy to reduce your stress in a time of crisis. Finding a lawyer to represent you in a DUI or criminal proceeding can be terrifying, as you're essentially putting your life in their hands. Before you decide who to best represent you before the court, do your due diligence and keep these 5 questions in mind:
What is Their Consultation Process?
Many lawyers will offer a free or low cost consultation to determine if they would be able to represent you effectively. Don't feel obligated to go with the first lawyer you speak with if you didn't feel like they were a good fit. While it may seem like time is ticking, spend the time to have consultations with as many law firms as you need in order to find the best fit. If you want more info on how to prepare for your consultation, CCCBA has a pretty thorough article that should help.
Do They Have References or Testimonials Available?
Just because they're on a commercial doesn't mean they're the best lawyer for you. Ask for references or do some research about them. Sometimes high profile attorneys, such as criminal lawyer Kenneth Padowitz, will be used as a source by the media to help make sense of a trial, which makes it easier to research their knowledge and experience on cases. Ask around and see if they have a reputation of being knowledgeable and ethical, or if they've burned previous clients.
What is Their Experience Handling a Case Like Yours?
Perhaps even more important than their reputation is their experience with cases like yours. While it's not unheard of for a lawyer that's inexperienced in trials like yours to win, this is probably one of those times you don't want to roll the dice. Try to find an attorney that has experience with cases like yours, and ask them what they feel the best strategy would be for court.
How Will They Expect to Bill You?
Don't feel awkward or uncomfortable asking to have this as clearly laid out as possible before you ask them to represent you. Attorneys may bill a flat fee, be paid via retainers, have an hourly rate, or a hybrid of all of these. Make sure you have an understanding of how you will be billed and what all that covers (findlaw.com has some great breakdowns of this), as you don't want to feel like you were taken advantage of because you didn't ask the right questions.
How Do You Feel Communicating With Them?
Lastly, how comfortable are you communicating with them before the trial? While the relationship is a professional one, you should feel comfortable asking questions and feel like you have an open line of communication with your attorney. If they're aloof and unresponsive, they may not be the best representative for you.
Hopefully you'll never need this information but if you do, remember to do your due diligence, ask questions like the 5 above, and do your best to help the attorney win your case. Good luck!