Tuesday, September 14, 2010

HOW TO CHOOSE A CRIMINAL LAW ATTORNEY

You just got nailed on a DUI or maybe it was a felony or a misdemeanor. You’re a little shaken, and you know you need help. You searched for attorneys on-line and most of them sound capable. How do you pick the right one for you? Here are some guidelines:

1) Be clear about your own priorities. Are you only looking for a low price? Do you just want to “get it over with” quickly? Or do you worry about your reputation? The type of punishment you may face? The effect on your future? After setting your priorities, you should seek the attorney most likely to match your goals.

2) Cheaper is not always better. The old saying “You get what you pay for” can still be true. If you are looking to get things over in one court date, you may easily find a low-cost attorney to show up and plea you out in one court date. However, an ill-considered plea may cause you future pain. Many a time, a client has come in with their second DUI arrest. A look at their record often shows they might have beaten their first case. Now the client is faced with greater penalties because of the quick plea on the earlier case.

3) Look for experience. In these hard times, many attorneys who used to practice in other areas are now taking criminal cases. While many still do a fine job, sometimes an inexperienced attorney can be tripped up by what they didn’t know that they didn’t know.

4) Choose an attorney who knows the players. An attorney who knows something about the judges and opposing counsel can better recommend a successful strategy for your case. If you know a judge rules well from the bench but slams defendants in jury trials, then you know not to request a jury in that courtroom.

5) Look for knowledge. Does the attorney seem to know what they are talking about? One way to tell is whether they ask you intelligent questions and seem knowledgeable about the procedure and consequences for your case.

6) Communication is a two-way street. You should pick an attorney with whom you can openly communicate. An attorney cannot successfully represent you unless you disclose all the facts. At the same time, your attorney should also communicate well with you. If you don’t understand something, ask them to explain.

7) Pick the one you trust. While you should certainly ask questions and take an active role in your defense, you should have enough confidence in your attorney not to constantly second guess them. After all, you are paying them because they know something about the legal system that you don’t know. If you don’t feel that’s true, then you should find another lawyer.

If you have questions about a criminal law issue, please do not hesitate to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email at matt@mattkeenanlaw.com

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves clients in the communities of Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Palatine, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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