Pro Tips: How to Spot an Awful Criminal Defense Attorney

Every criminal defense attorney brings different strengths to the fore for his or her clients. All work in their clients’ best interests, but not every counselor is created equal. Some, in fact, are terrible. How can you determine if an attorney or firm has what it takes to handle your criminal case and handle it in a professional manner? Watch out for these warning signs, and you just may avoid getting into a situation that could otherwise harm your case.

The Defense Attorney Offers Discount or Below-Cost Services

Retainers are often commensurate with skill level. A criminal defense lawyer who offers low introductory rates comes off seeming more like a car salesman than a legal advocate. Avoid these bargain basement rates, as these attorneys may not have the courtroom experience your case demands. You want experience, not a lawyer who’s still learning the ropes. If he makes a mistake, he won’t be the one paying the price – you will.

Here is the reality.  An attorney who charges you a $1,500 flat fee to handle a drug possession case will do okay for him or her self if the attorney convinces you to plead guilty.  If there is an issue of whether the officer violated your rights during the search, a motion to suppress has to be filed.  That takes time and work.  If there is a question whether the lab handled the testing properly, that will require another motion, more time, more work and possibly an expert to testify about what was done wrong with the testing.  If that attorney files the necessary motions, hires the right experts and conducts the hearings, the attorney will not make very much money defending you and may actually take a loss after paying overhead.

In that scenario, do you think that attorney has much incentive to tell you about the fact that a motion to suppress could result in the case being dismissed?  Do you think the attorney has much incentive to set the case for trial?  Probably not.

Don’t be surprised if the fees for one attorney are three or four times higher than with another attorney.  You are not buying a car.  You are hiring a professional to defend your freedom.  If your freedom is taken from you, you cannot work and that is an extremely expensive proposition.  Far more expensive than paying a competent attorney.

utah criminal defense lawyer

The Defense Lawyer is Rude to Clients

A positive attitude matters.

Criminal defense is a service industry – nothing more. Your attorney has a legal obligation to mount a rigorous defense on your behalf, and accomplishing that usually requires a fair amount of communication with you as the client. A lawyer who’s rude to you over the phone, or on first meeting, will probably continue the behavior throughout your relationship. If your attorney isn’t going to treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve, there’s no reason to pay that professional to represent you. Move on to a legal professional who can engage you in a pleasant manner, and put your mind at ease about what you’re going through.

Don’t Be Misled By Fake Reviews

In today’s world, there are literally hundreds of directories and websites that purport to provide information about attorneys including reviews of their services.  Beware that many of these so-called reviews have been posted by friends, family, the attorney, and marketing agencies to give a false impression the attorney’s abilities.  Take such reviews for what they are.

Ask the Attorney What Defenses Exist In Your Case

If you are able to provide a fairly thorough explanation of the case, a seasoned criminal defense attorney should be able to tell you what defenses may be viable in defending you.  This may be the most straightforward way of assessing counsel’s experience and skill set.

If the attorney is vague about what he or she would do, the attorney is likely counting on you pleading guilty.  If the attorney claims to have a special relationship with the judge or prosecutor that can be drawn on to help you, get up and leave.  I am friends with a lot of judges and prosecutors.  That is not the reason I obtain favorable outcomes for my clients.  I obtain favorable outcomes for my clients by working hard, working smart and preparing for trial.

Don’t Count on Guarantees

If the attorney makes any guarantees as to the outcome of the case, get up and leave.  It is a violation of the Utah Code of Professional Conduct to make such promises and given the nature of the criminal justice system, any kind of guarantee relating to the outcome is a pure fraud.  Don’t fall for it. An experienced attorney will provide you an honest opinion as to what you should expect as an outcome.  A statement by the attorney of what reasonably can be expected is okay provided it is always always always prefaced with a recognition that there are no guarantees.

If the attorney is specific and can outline a reasonable approach to defending the case, you likely have someone who is able to help you.  If the attorney can provide you with a reasonable estimate of how much work is involved in your case, it usually means the attorney knows what needs to be done.  You probably have a keeper.

Get Help From an Experienced Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Lawyer with Overson Law, LLC.

Regardless of the charges you’re facing, you want a Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer who’s going to put their all into your defense, and serve tirelessly as your loudest voice in the courtroom. If you’ve recently been charged with a crime, you need experienced representation as soon as possible. Call our law firm today for a case evaluation and explanation of your rights.