Find the Best Criminal Defense Attorney For Your Case

A person charged with a crime, particularly for the first time, may be in a real quandary. How do they find the best criminal attorney for my case? Many people will have family members or friends who know lawyers but is that the best attorney for their case? The Internet is saturated with attorneys claiming to be experts but how reliable are their websites? This article briefly outlines some of the factors you want to consider in choosing a criminal defense attorney.

  1. Find an attorney with experience. See how long the he or she has practiced law. Ensure they specialize in criminal law. Examine their website and pay particular attention to the types of cases he or she has handled.
  2. Hire an attorney with jury trial experience. Asked the attorney how many jury trials he or she has conducted. An attorney with jury trial experience provide you with the greatest opportunity for an acquittal if you are not guilty or if the prosecution cannot prove their case; and, the maximum leverage in negotiating a plea in a case in which you are guilty. Judges and prosecutors know those who are not afraid to try a case; those that carry the most respect and are offered the best dispositions for their clients.
  3. Ensure that the attorney has tried your type of case. Some may only specialize in murder cases; that is all they do. They may not be the best for your drunk driving or your drug case. Be sure that the attorney you have selected has successfully defended a case similar to yours.
  4. Make sure the attorney you are hiring will be the attorney who handles your case. If you go to a large law firm you may speak to a partner who specializes in your type of case; however, that partner may pass your case to an associate with less experience. Be sure the partner will be representing you in court.
  5. Look for a professional website. A successful attorney will have a professional looking website. If the attorney is a professional he will carry himself that way in all respects, including the way he presents himself to you, in the courtroom and on his website.
  6. Asked another attorney. Attorneys in private practice know attorneys who specialized in all fields of law. If you have a family attorney that handles your real estate or probate matters that attorney can probably identify an excellent criminal attorney.
  7. You get what you pay for. It is not always wise to find the cheapest attorney. Attorneys with little or no experience will often charge far less money than those attorneys with experience. Some attorneys will take a case with no intention of considering a trial. They will review it with the sole intent of having you plead guilty; the attorney should explore all avenues, including motions to dismiss, motions to suppress and trial, before having you change your plea to guilty.

Why You Need a Durable Power of Attorney Now!

Planning for unfortunate events such as serious illness or injury is rarely on anyone’s list of favorite pastimes. Sometimes, though, enduring the small discomfort that may accompany preparing for the unexpected will avoid untold anguish on the part of your family and friends. This is certainly the case with the Durable Power of Attorney, an often simple document that becomes so very important if sickness or injury renders you unable to take care of your own affairs.

Power of Attorney Defined

A Power of Attorney is a document in which you (as the “Principal”) allow someone else (the “Agent” or “Attorney-in-fact”) to act legally on your behalf. The Power of Attorney may be limited to very specific actions that the Agent is authorized to take on your behalf. On the other hand it may give the Agent very broad powers. In either event, the Agent you appoint in the Power of Attorney should be someone that you trust without reservation. That could be a family member, an advisor, a trustworthy friend or a bank or similar institution.

The “Durable” Power of Attorney

The significance of having a “Durable” Power of Attorney is best understood if you know what can happen with the plain old garden variety of Power of Attorney.

If you sign a Power of Attorney that is not “durable,” the document remains effective only while you are alive and competent to handle your own affairs. If you become incompetent or die, the Power of Attorney is automatically revoked by law and your Agent is no longer able to act on your behalf. This prevents a Power of Attorney from becoming irrevocable inadvertently, and, until recent times, it was the only way a Power of Attorney could be prepared.

The non-durable Power of Attorney has limited usefulness for family and estate planning purposes, though, because the Power of Attorney is often most needed when you have become incapacitated! That is when you really need someone else that is able to make legal decisions or take other actions on your behalf.

All fifty states now permit the use of a “durable” Power of Attorney that is not revoked simply because the Principal becomes incapacitated or mentally incompetent. This makes the Durable Power of Attorney a far more reliable document, particularly for family and estate planning purposes, since you may now authorize your Agent to act on your behalf even after illness, injury or other cause has rendered you unable to manage your own affairs. Even with a Durable Power of Attorney, however, the Principal’s death causes an immediate revocation of the document and termination of the powers that are given to the Agent.

A Matter of Convenience

The Durable Power of Attorney is often used as a matter of convenience.

Suppose, for example, you have your home listed for sale. You have also planned a long awaited trip to visit Aunt Trixie in Deadwood, South Dakota, and you are concerned that an interested buyer may come along while you are on the road. A Durable Power of Attorney would be handy here to appoint someone you trust to act in your absence to negotiate the sale and sign any documents that are needed to make the deal binding.

The Durable Power of Attorney could be prepared so that it is effective only until the date you plan to return from your trip, and it might describe specific terms that your Agent must include in the sale, such as the minimum sale price that is acceptable to you.

A Matter of Protecting Loved Ones

What happens if, from illness, injury or another cause, you become physically or mentally incapacitated to the point that you are no longer able to handle your own legal affairs?

Let’s suppose again that while you are incapacitated it becomes necessary to mortgage your home to pay your medical bills. Who will sign the mortgage? Even if your home is jointly owned with your spouse, he cannot obtain a mortgage without your signature.

In those circumstances it would be necessary to request the local probate court to appoint a guardian for you that has the power to handle your legal affairs. In many states, this type of guardian is referred to as a “conservator”. Included in the conservator’s powers might be the power to borrow money and sign a mortgage on your behalf making it possible to obtain the funds needed to pay the medical bills.

However, you may have heard that it is advantageous to avoid probate whenever possible, particularly if there is a good alternative available. The delay and expense associated with probate proceedings and the fact that they are conducted in the probate court, a public forum, make that good advice in most circumstances. And there is a better alternative than probate, but it requires you to act before the incapacity arises – you need to sign a Durable Power of Attorney.

When used in this estate planning context, the Durable Power of Attorney is generally worded very broadly to give your Agent the power to step into your legal shoes in almost any circumstance. In effect, you tell your Agent “You can do anything I can do.”

Now, if you have prepared the Durable Power of Attorney and then become incapacitated, no one has to go through a probate proceeding to appoint a guardian or conservator to act for you – you have already given your Agent the power to do so. As you can see, the Durable Power of Attorney can save precious time and expense in critical situations and avoid having your personal affairs become the subject of a public proceeding.

Appointing a Successor Agent

It is often a good idea to appoint one or more successor Agents. The Agent you appoint in your Durable Power of Attorney may die or for some other reason become unable or unwilling to act as your Agent. In that case, you may be left without someone to act for you when you most need that assistance.

Appointing successors to your first choice of Agent helps insure that someone is always available to handle your affairs. Of course, each successor that you appoint should be someone that has your complete trust.

Revoking a Power of Attorney

As long as you are competent, you have the power to revoke your Durable Power of Attorney. To do so, send written notice to your Agent notifying him or her that the document has been revoked. Once the Agent has notice of your revocation, the Agent may take no further action under the Durable Power of Attorney. However, your revocation will not undo any permissible actions that the Agent has taken prior to being notified that the Power of Attorney has been terminated.

You must also notify third parties with whom your Agent has been dealing that the Durable Power of Attorney has been revoked. For example, if the Agent has been dealing with a stockbroker, you must notify the stockbroker as soon as possible. Do this in writing, as well, and do it immediately. Third parties who do not receive notice of the revocation are entitled to, and probably will, continue to rely on the Durable Power of Attorney.

Making the Durable Power of Attorney Effective upon Incapacity.

It is possible to have a Durable Power of Attorney that only becomes effective if and when you become incapacitated. This document is referred as a “springing” Durable Power of Attorney because it “springs to life” on the occurrence of a future event – your incapacity. The document should include a detailed definition of “disability” to make clear the circumstances in which your Agent may act on your behalf.

Knowing that your Agent is unable to exercise his or her powers until you are actually unable to do so yourself may make using the Durable Power of Attorney more comfortable for you. Unfortunately, even with a good definition of incapacity in the springing Durable Power of Attorney, your Agent may find that third parties are simply not willing to make the judgment that you are indeed disabled. If they are wrong, they may be held liable to you for any damages that you sustain as a result of the error in judgment. You may therefore find the springing document cannot be relied upon in all circumstances.

Don’t Procrastinate!

Estate planning is easy to put off. But don’t! Advance planning, such as executing a Durable Power of Attorney, may make a horrible circumstance for you and your family just a bit more bearable.

Finding an Attorney You Can Trust

When it comes time to hire an attorney, most people have absolutely no idea where to begin. Of course you want to find the most affordable legal representation possible but then again you also want to make sure you hire an attorney with experience and knowledge about your specific kind of case. Fortunately, when it comes to finding great legal representation there are a couple of methods which will help you find the best possible attorney for you at a rate you can afford.

How Do You Determine Which an Attorney is Right for You?

This is an easy one. Simply meet with the attorney. You are going to have to do this anyway if the attorney is willing to take on your case. Meeting not only helps the attorney learn important facts about your case, but it also gives you a chance to see whether or not you feel comfortable when talking with the attorney. You will have to communicate with this person on a pretty regular basis. Do you feel confident this is someone you can fully trust to handle your case? Does the attorney appear to show sincere interest in your case? You must be able to answer both of the questions squarely before deciding if the attorney is a good fit.

How Do I Actually Find a Good Attorney?

One of the very best ways to find a good attorney is by approaching an attorney you already know. If you do not already know any attorneys, ask your friends and family for the names of some attorneys they know and trust. Another way to find an attorney is by approaching your State Bar.

You may also be able to find out other valuable information about an attorney by finding what organizations an attorney is part of. Some organizations require members to meet certain standards of achievement in their practice. Approach your State bar and ask for a list of reputable organizations where you may be able to research an attorney’s background and experience.

When Meeting With an Attorney, What Questions Should I Ask?

Firstly, you should start off by asking the attorney what areas of law he or she specializes in. It might not be such a great idea to hire even a reputable bankruptcy lawyer who only minors in personal injury if your case happens to be a personal injury case.

Get a Feel for an Experience Level.

Ask the attorney whether or not he or she has handled many cases like yours before. If so, then ask how many. Do not feel bad about asking these kinds of questions. You want to find an attorney you can trust, right? A good attorney always welcomes these kinds of questions. After all, trust is the key to forming an effective attorney-client relationship.

It’s all about the TES Factor.

When you are looking for the right attorney, just remember the TES factor; Trust, Experience and Sincerity. Find an attorney who you feel you can completely trust and who has a proven track record of experience with you kind of case. Make sure that the attorney is sincere, meaning that he or she actually shows genuine concern about your case. Generally, if you are able to find an attorney with great TES, you are probably in pretty good hands. Well, let’s not forget about pricing! Maybe you should look for good TESP. “P” meaning pricing, of course, but usually excellent attorneys are definitely worth a little more.