In a Southern California city such as Ventura, Pasadena, or Los Angeles, criminal lawyers are a dime a dozen. But how do you find the most qualified counsel out of the many expert lawyers in California? Which defense counselor in San Bernardino is immensely educated in forgery law, DUI/DWI law, writs and appeals law, or assault law? A person wanting to hire a Los Angeles criminal defense OUI lawyer has to ask himself/herself these questions! People are stunned to realize that many of my clients are first time lawbreakers, who because of dubious circumstances are arrested and charged with a criminality. Sound familiar?
Many of my customers are word of mouth referrals, referred by acquaintances, people in their network or their lawyer. Being referred is the starting step, but how do I, as a prospective client, know if this criminal defense attorney is most appropriate for me? My administrative assistant, Cynthia, is the first person who has communication with a prospective customer. Cynthia is frequently asked if the criminal attorney has any experience handling criminal court trials just like theirs and what is my success rate? Often the client will directly ask me those same question.
Those are terrific questions that need to be answered honestly. But how do you know if your criminal defense attorney is honestly telling you the truth? “Buyer beware”- there are a lot of attorneys out there who will exaggerate the facts when it comes to their qualifications and previous experience – my investigator, refers to this puff as the attorney at law “selling wolf tickets”.
To help you find a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who is suitable for you and your criminal court case, here are five easy steps to help you choose a competent criminal defense attorney.
5 steps to find a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles
- Know the crime you have been arraigned with. Ask colleagues and friends for recommendations to criminal lawyers. Word of mouth is a great way to find an lawyer that’s right for you. You will feel more confident hiring a criminal defense legal representation who was recommended by someone you trust.
- Go online to expand your list. A good site to find good criminal lawyers is lawyers.com. Simply type in the area of law and location to determine your query. For example, “Riverside criminal attorney”, or to be even more precise, “drug trafficking attorney San Diego”.
- Research the list of attorneys you’ve put together. Find out how long they have been practicing criminal law (general rule of thumb is at least 15 years), how many criminal law court litigations they have won/lost. In California, you can look up an attorney’s undergraduate and law school schooling and how long they have been admitted to the bar at The State Bar of California website. More importantly, check whether the lawyer has an AV Peer Review Rating on lawyers.com website. This rating is a recognition of the attorney’s legal competence and adherence to the highest level of professional ethics as judged by other attorneys and judges.
- Ask the legal representation about the fees. Depending on the counsel, rates can vary greatly from $100/hour to over $750/hour. Get his/her costs schedules up front to know precisely what you will be paying. Never be in agreement to work with an attorney that charges a percentage of the total settlement he/she gets for you. It is unethical for the attorney to do so.
- Meet with the attorney in person. But before meeting, make sure you find out whether there is an initial consultation fee. Ask as many questions that pertain to your criminal case as possible. Get an overall sense of how comfortable you feel and whether or not he/she is competent enough to represent you in the court of law. Does the defense counselor ask appropriate, sensible questions? Will he/she handle the case or let junior associates do the work? To hire the best Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, ask to see their track record in writing and then go to the court and check them out!