How do I select a criminal defense attorney - Fairfax Virginia
You have been charged with a crime. Your life and future are now filled with uncertainty. The last thing you need at this time is the stress of making the most critical decision in your case: Who is the best defense attorney to represent you and how do you know?
Experience – as a general rule, the more experience an attorney possesses, the greater chance you have that the attorney understands the law, knows possible defenses, and should have a good working relationship with the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney. Unfortunately, that is simply not the case. How do you clear the air from an attorney’s sales puffing? Ask your lawyer the following questions?
1. How many years have you been licensed and practicing in Virginia? Many lawyers will state that have over 50 years experience, but in reality, they are adding their years of experience with other attorney's experience in the same office.
2. When was your last trial? No matter how many years an attorney has been licensed, you need to know how many actual trials (jury and non-jury) your attorney has completed. Our firm recognizes and is proud to be skilled in negotiating good results. And it is because the Commonwealth's Attorneys are aware that our firm will go to trial and that we are prepared for when we go to trial.
3. When was your last "not guilty" jury verdict? Our firm recognizes that a jury returning a verdict of not guilty is not as common as most defendants would hope. However, they are a great example of the quality of your defense attorney. Our firm achieved NOT GUILTY verdicts on April Conspiracy to Distribute 500 grams of more of Cocaine and Distribution of Cocaine. Our firm also achieved NOT guilty verdicts on October 7, 2011 in the Arlington County Courthouse on two counts of Assault and Battery, originally charged as Malicious Wounding.
Communication - you must be able to trust and feel comfortable with your attorney as well as your attorney’s staff. If your attorney is experienced, he is hopefully in court often. And if the attorney is in court, you must have the ability to call the office and get the answers to any questions you may have in a reasonable amount of time. There is no question that our office provides this level of customer service with its attorneys and legal staff. Moreover, we will explain the charges against you, the procedure and process ahead, explore possible defenses, and advise you on the results we have personally experienced with similar cases.
Fees – legal fees can vary depending on the type of case and the level of experience. There are two options for fee arrangements: Flat Fee and Hourly. An attorney is not allowed to accept criminal cases on a contingency basis. BEWARE: No lawyer can guarantee an outcome in your case. And if they do, be sure to ask for it in writing.
1. Rates: you can see what an attorney should be charging per based on the schedule provided by the Bar. So when assessing the cost of your case, you should be able to do the simple math of how many hours you hope your attorney multiplied by their hourly rate.
2. Misdemeanor cases - maximum punishment is 12 months in jail. Reckless driving with a good driving record will likely be a less time-consuming case. However, a DUI/DWI requires additional court appearances and additional discovery of evidence and will cost more. Both are Class 1 Misdemeanors.
3. Felony cases - any crime with a possible punishment of more than 1 year. Felony cases are different than misdemeanors because you receive a preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing is probably the most crucial hearing in any felony case. The likelihood of whether your case will go to trial usually determined at this stage.