Hiring a criminal defense lawyer

How to hire a criminal defense lawyer

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Hi everybody! Ray Ybarra Maldonado here, I want to give you a little bit of advice on how to hire a criminal defense lawyer in Phoenix.  The reason I want to do this is because I’ve seen so many people here in my office in tears because the criminal lawyer they gave money to didn’t do anything for them, or worse, did something that made their lives miserable and possibly resulted in a longer prison sentence or even in deportation in some cases.

There are three key areas that I want you to focus on when you’re going to look into hiring a criminal lawyer.

The first one is experience (Criminal lawyer)

What kind of experience does this criminal attorney have? Is this person someone who has won jury trials in superior court? Has this criminal lawyer won jury trials in federal courts? Have they submitted motions to dismiss that have resulted in the case being completely thrown out? There are two ways a criminal defense lawyer can win, one is a non-guilty verdict after trial and two are good motions that result in throwing out the evidence or the government or the judge dismissing the case completely.

You want to be sure that when hiring a criminal lawyer that they have the necessary experiences to defend you in your court case.

What kind of cases have they worked before?

Along with the trial experience,  you want a criminal lawyer that has worked your kind of case before.  The area of criminal law is very broad. You can have a misdemeanor case, DUI, domestic violence in a municipal court. You can have a serious felony drug case, aggravated assault case in superior court, you can have an illegal reentry, drug case, smuggling case in federal court.  It might not necessarily be that the criminal lawyer your working with feels comfortable in federal court but they might feel really comfortable in superior court and vice versa.  Maybe that lawyer only does DUI and misdemeanor court and that’s the person you need because you don’t need a criminal attorney that’s done jury trials in federal court if you’re just charged with misdemeanor or DUI in municipal court. Here you have somebody that has done thirty of these trials; that would be more of an attorney you would need to hire.

Will the criminal lawyer be there with you in the courtroom?

You want to be sure you have an attorney with experience and you also want to be sure that the person that you’re hiring is going to be there in the courtroom.  You want to ask the question “Who is going to be the attorney representing me?” Is it going to be the attorney that’s talking to you and with a lot of experience? “Are you going to be the one that’s going to my court hearings?”

In addition to this, if you are not a U.S. citizen or if your family member is not a citizen, if they are a legal permanent resident, if they don’t have any immigration status, it is very important to ask your criminal lawyer;  do you know the consequences of criminal conviction? Specifically, the charge that’s being levied against me?  If you are a U.S. citizen, you don’t have to worry about that, but for anybody else, that’s very important.

You can have a very aggressive, very good criminal attorney that thinks they can beat this case and knows how to get a great plea that avoids jail or prison time, but at the end of the day, that conviction is going to result in automatic deportation.  Someone who is an amazing criminal lawyer might not necessarily know the immigration consequences.  However, this is not the end of the road, all you have to do if your criminal lawyer doesn’t know what the immigration consequences can be is to hire an immigration attorney to review and [have them] talk to your criminal attorney about your immigration consequences so you know before you plead guilty what those [potential] consequences will be.

You want to know who will be handling your criminal case. Is it going to be the criminal attorney with all the experience or is it going to be the junior associate that just graduated from law school and may not really know what they are doing.  Be clear about that before you sign a contract.

[Also], I often tell people, “Why don’t you meet your public defender first?” Because often times, they are a very good [legal defense].  Public defenders get a very bad reputation, people think they work for the government,  get paid by the government and won’t fight for me at all!  That’s not necessarily always going to be the case, you might be able to save yourself  thousands of dollars and get better representation if you work with a public defender versus hiring a private criminal lawyer.

The reason I say that is because, before having my own law firm, I was a public defender in Cochise County. I was an assistant federal public defender in federal court in Tucson.  I know that if I had gotten your case back then, I would’ve worked just as hard as I work the cases today.  There’s a lot of great people in both of those offices and here in Maricopa county as well! So give your public defender a chance and if you are not getting along, if they are not returning your calls, if they are not reviewing disclosures with you, then [their defense] is not what you need and it makes sense, perhaps this is the most important decision of your life, and need someone that’s going to take the case very seriously.  Then you can hire a private criminal lawyer.

Always talk to three attorneys before you sign a contract. Ask them these same questions to make sure you are getting an experienced criminal lawyer, a confident attorney, who’s going to be handling your case.

 

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