When you are arrested or charged with a DUI charge (or any criminal offense for that matter), it is likely the most scary and stressful event you have ever faced. For the vast majority of people charged with a DUI, it is the only time they have ever been faced with a criminal charge in their lives. It's an extremely frightening thing to face. Whether it is your first time in the criminal justice system, or you've been there before, you will have to make a decision about whether to hire an attorney, or which attorney you should hire to represent you. There are many attorneys who claim to “handle DUIs” - - beware - - many such attorneys are happy to take your retainer fee and just as quickly take the first offer that comes from the prosecutor. This is usually not in your best interest. Nor is it in your best interest to hire a DUI lawyer that does not have the experience or training to know what to look for in a case to prepare your best defense - - or how to present a defense to a Court or Jury.
SHOULD I HIRE AN ATTORNEY?
The easy answer is YES. Of course you should. Think about it this way - - If you had a medical condition that required surgery, would you EVER consider operating on yourself. While not usually life threatening, the permanent consequences of a DUI conviction can be very serious - - they can include jail (or prison) time, suspension of your driver's license, fines, massive increases in auto insurance costs, towing and impound costs, alcohol evaluations, DUI school and victim impact classes - - the list goes on and on. With such an exposure to your personal financial health, why would you EVER consider going it alone?
A competent and effective DUI defense lawyer knows how to address your case. The same as a trained doctor knows how to prepare you for surgery; a trained DUI lawyer knows how to prepare your case. With the right training, experience and expertise, a DUI defense lawyer, such as Attorney Josh Tomsheck of the law firm of Hofland & Tomsheck, will know how to investigate the facts of your individual case, research the law (both statutory laws and case precedent), attack the police reports and forensic science in your case and ultimately effectively present your defense to the prosecutor, judge and, in some cases, the jury. Good DUI lawyers recognize issues that will help your case and know how to develop those issues into a good defense. A good DUI lawyer won't just take your money and tell you to take your first plea offer.
What does this mean? It means that unless you are comfortable just rolling over and taking all the punishment, costs and PERMANENT CONSEQUENCES that come with a DUI conviction, you should ALWAYS hire an experienced DUI lawyer to look out for you, your freedom and your financial health. Don't do it alone.
WHAT ATTORNEY SHOULD I HIRE?
The lawyer client relationship is a very important, and personal, choice. Who should you hire? Here are some questions to ask that will help you make the right decision.
- What areas of law do you focus on?
Not all lawyers are the same. Not all lawyers have the same level of training and experience. There are literally HUNDREDS of different specialties and sub-specialties in the field of the law. The best contract lawyer in your State might be the worst at litigation. You may know a superstar civil litigator who knows NOTHING about criminal defense and the defense of DUI charges. If you had a toothache, you wouldn't go to a podiatrist. The same principle applies to DUI cases. To fully understand the complexity of a DUI charge and be able to thoroughly and effectively defend against one, the lawyer you choose simply must have the training, expertise and focus of practice to be able to best represent you. While any lawyer can tell you “I handle DUI's” - - make sure the one you hire focuses a large portion of his or her practice to criminal defense, and specifically DUI related cases.
- What kind of training do you have?
Don't be afraid to ask your potential attorney what training he or she has undergone in the field of DUI's. Lawyers are required to attend continuing legal education, or “CLE” courses every single year to maintain their licenses. A top DUI attorney will attend these sessions in the field of DUI law as to stay on top of the trends and developments that will best help them defend against these types of charges. Your lawyer should be able to tell you what types of classes and seminars they have attended and what the topics covered were. A well versed DUI lawyer will have the latest and best training in issues unique to DUI law, including police procedures, forensics, field sobriety tests, breath tests, blood tests and constitutional law issues.
- What kind of experience do you have?
While training is extremely important, it is also very important to have a lawyer with real, courtroom experience in these types of cases. Ask your lawyer how well he knows the prosecutors, judges and court staff in Court's your case is being handled in. Ask your lawyer if they have tried cases, specifically criminal and DUI cases. If your lawyer can't answer “yes” and can't give you examples of the Court's they have litigated in, they probably aren't worth your time.
- Will I be able to talk to you personally?
Many lawyers make it difficult to talk to them personally once the client is signed up and the retainer is paid. While it is extremely important that your lawyer have competent and personable staff to handle some administrative duties related to your case, you should be able to discuss the legal issues directly with your lawyer. A good DUI lawyer cares about you and your case. Make sure you like the lawyer that will be looking out for you. Make sure he or she is available and willing to answer all your questions, explain the process and help you through this difficult time in your life. It's unreasonable to expect a lawyer to drop whatever he or she is doing and take your call the minute you ask, but it is just as unreasonable for your lawyer not to call you back within twenty-four (24) hours and take the time to discuss the case with you.
- What do you charge?
This is an extremely important question to ask your potential lawyer. A quality DUI lawyer, after having heard the facts of your case and knowing the potential charges against you, should be able to quote you a fee - - and tell you what that fee covers.
BEWARE - - if your potential DUI lawyer tells you “we charge the lowest prices in town” or “this is half of what you can expect to be charged at the firm down the street” - - RUN! You want a lawyer that has YOUR best interest at heart, not his or her own. If a lawyer charges you huge “discounted” rates, it's because they are not giving your case the attention it deserves, or running a volume mill of DUI cases to make up for the lower fees. Often these lawyers appear on your case one or two times, and take the first offer the prosecutor gives them! When faced with a criminal charge that has permanent consequences like a DUI, you should KNOW that your lawyer is dedicating the time necessary and fighting as hard as possible for you. If your lawyer takes your case for a “sales price,” along with 100 other individuals in the same boat, who is he or she looking out for? It likely isn't you. Think about it this way, if a butcher put a stack of meat outside his butcher shop on a table with a sign that said “meat – ½ price” - - would you expect a nice filet mignon dinner? Or would you wonder why the meat was so cheap?
You can always find a “lawyer” who will charge a lesser fee, but most of the time these types of attorneys simply do not have the education, training or experience to understand the complexity of DUI law and won't do the work necessary to present a good defense in your case. Your lawyer should be able to quote you a fee, defend it, and tell you exactly what you get for it. Don't be afraid to ask.
- Can you guarantee me a certain outcome?
This is perhaps the single most important question to ask a potential DUI lawyer. If the lawyer tells you he or she can guarantee a certain outcome, politely thank them for their time and get up and walk out the door. Nothing is every guaranteed in a DUI case - - or any criminal case for that matter. To do so is dangerous and a direct violation of the lawyers ethical obligations to his or her client. It is impossible for an attorney to tell you based on a conversation what the outcome of your case will be. To properly evaluate a case, an attorney must review all of the evidence, legal issues, and numerous other variables. This simply can't be done based on a conversation or two. You want a lawyer who can tell you, based on experience and knowledge, what types of scenarios you can expect in a case - - but you NEVER want a lawyer to guarantee you ANYTHING.
CONTACT US TODAY
If you have been arrested for a DUI, or know someone who has, we can help. If you want to ask us questions about your rights, or request a FREE COPY of your Nevada Driver's Rights Card, call us today at (702) 895-6760 or outside Las Vegas at (855) LVNV DUI / (855) 586-8384 or submit your case online (click here) today. We offer a FREE, no obligation case evaluation with our experienced DUI attorney. Just because you were arrested, DOES NOT mean you must be convicted! Contact the law firm of Hofland & Tomsheck - - “Fighting for Justice, Fighting for YOU!”