How do I choose an attorney for my criminal case?

Is there such a thing as a “win-loss” record I can check?

If you’re facing criminal charges of any sort and are looking for an attorney, how do you pick one?  Who is going to represent you in court?  Much like choosing any other professional – doctor, dentist, accountant – there is data and there is your gut.

Often, people want to know about an attorney’s wins and losses.  “Wins and losses” in the criminal setting is hard to gauge. Every case is unique, so every outcome depends on the facts of the case, what legal and factual defenses are available, etc. Other win/loss data is very subjective.

Having said that, what’s a “win”? Getting charges dismissed on a legal issue? Winning a motion to suppress evidence? Getting a not guilty verdict at trial? A lesser charge? A favorable plea agreement?  Many times, a person is charged with two charges (for example, DUI can have two different charges, but they count as one DUI – see this link for more).  If an attorney gets one of the charges dismissed in exchange for a plea to the other count, their client is still convicted of DUI, but the attorney can technically claim that they got a “DUI charge dismissed.”  True, maybe but not accurate when assessing a win/loss record.  A “win” is the very best outcome you can get, based on the facts, the evidence and the law.

The only way to really assess attorneys is to do what you are doing – online research, backgrounds of their experience, etc. From there though, it’ll take face to face meetings to discuss your case and how the two of you “fit” in a common defense. In your in-person consultations, you can discuss their experience with similar cases, what issues they see and their tentative strategy. Of course, that strategy is always subject to change, depending on how the facts and the case shapes up. When discussing your case with your attorney, pay attention to how they answer your questions.  If they can explain the charges and issues to you, then odds are they can connect to a jury, should your case go to trial.  What legal motions could be run?  How do they analyze a case?

You can drive yourself crazy by overanalyzing things, but once you’ve got it narrowed down to your top 3 or so contenders, start setting up consultations and go from there. There’s something about the intangible feeling you can gain about people when you meet them. Best of luck in the process.

If after reading more about me, you’d like to set up a meeting to discuss your situation, give me a call or send an email.  I’ve found that sitting down face to face is always the best way to discuss your case, so let’s set up a consultation.

Joe Dane


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