The Dangers of Hiring a Cheap Defense Lawyer

As criminal defense attorneys, we’re here to help you, not judge you. The mark of a good defense lawyer is one who sees your case through a clear, unbiased lens. They don’t hesitate to lend an ear or to demonstrate both their compassion and their dedication to their clients. A good criminal defense lawyer walks you through the process, step by step, and stays by your side, physically and emotionally.

At Wolf Law LLC, we know what makes a good defense attorney and we strive to conduct our business this way. But our years of experience have also exposed us to what a bad defense attorney looks like. These men and women, though trained in the art of law, do not go above and beyond for their clients. They may be more affordable, they may even achieve successful settlements, but to them you’re just another client, no different than all the rest. But those aren’t the only downsides to hiring a cheap defense attorney and, with your future at stake, why take a chance by hiring what could be a sub-par lawyer?

Think You Don’t Need an Attorney?

Think again. If you’ve been accused of or charged with a crime, your future is at stake. Your home, your car, your job, and your family may all lie in the balance, depending solely on the outcome of your case. Sure, you can represent yourself, but should you? Or maybe you’re considering hiring that discount attorney you’ve seen on TV. He or she may very well be the best attorney practicing their specialty, but if they don’t have criminal defense experience, you won’t be getting the best representation you could be.

There are multiple areas of practice that a defense attorney can specialize in. They may handle routine cases or they may focus on a specific area, like domestic violence or sexual crimes. The point is, a typical attorney may have a small chance of successfully representing a fairly standard criminal defense case, but they sure won’t have a hope of helping if your case requires specialized help. The potential for lack of special experience and real world knowledge of your situation is, perhaps, one of the biggest downfalls of choosing not to hire a dedicated criminal defense attorney.

Whether you’re thinking about hiring a non-criminal defense lawyer or thinking about representing yourself, there are a number of factors you should take into consideration before making your final decision:

  1. A regular attorney may not understand the process of a criminal trial.
  2. Because of that, they will likely find it hard to adequately prepare.
  3. An average attorney doesn’t represent the accused, but rather the victim, which means you’d be asking them to flip their legal perspective 180 degrees.
  4. And since they usually work for the victim, they probably have no clue how to use evidence in a way that helps the accused.
  5. But, if you choose to represent yourself, know that you don’t have any better understanding of the criminal justice system than they do.
  6. You’ll be on your own in the courtroom, with no one between you, the jury, and the judge, and nobody there to tell you what not to say.
  7. On top of all that, you can only be sure you are getting the best plea negotiation when an attorney helps you. They will be able to fully review the case against you and negotiate on a level playing field with the prosecutor.

What’s Wrong with a Public Defender?

Nothing, except that most of them are overworked, overburdened, and have very, very little time to prepare for regular trials, let alone a criminal defense case. This isn’t to say that they aren’t good lawyers or that they don’t care about their clients, they just aren’t able to dedicate the time that most cases deserve. In some situations, you may not even speak to your public defender before you see them in the courtroom.

Why is the public defense system so flawed?

It’s underfunded, and that makes it impossible to handle the number of cases they get day in and day out. Federal law mandates that a public defenders caseload should be no more than 150 per year. That’s still a lot of cases, but when you compare it to how many they actually handle, 150 is a walk in the park. Some public defenders regularly handle over 500 caseloads a year, and investigations into the legal system have found that there are those who have been assigned an excess of 1,600 cases a year.

Consider also that you don’t get to choose your public defender, and if you don’t like him well, tough luck. That’s scary enough without mentioning the fact that your particular public defender may have vested interests elsewhere. With so many cases, they’re constantly in and out of the courtroom, which means they will, most likely, have built relationships with many of the judges and other court officials. Despite them being there to help you, it’s entirely possible that a public defender will act a certain way around one judge and differently around another. The truth is, you just can’t count on the outcome when it comes to having a public defender, successful or otherwise.

It is important to understand that most public defenders are excellent attorneys fighting extremely hard for all of their clients.  The largest difference between a public defender and a private attorney is time and choice.

So How Do I Find a Good Criminal Defense Lawyer?

At this point, it should be clear how advantageous it is to have the help of an excellent criminal defense lawyer. It’s also important to know that if you’ve been accused of a crime and are facing trial, time is of the essence. Finding a lawyer sooner rather than later will give them the most time possible to prepare a compelling argument and make full use of any resources available to them.

You know that you need a lawyer, but you may not know how to select one that will give you the best chance of a successful outcome. There are a lot of factors to consider when doing your research to find a criminal defense attorney, but there are four components that are particularly important when making your choice:

Cost

Obviously price is a huge motivating factor for most people but remember, you really do get what you pay for. The cost of an attorney can vary based on the complexity of your case, how experienced the attorney is, and where he is located. Some attorneys bill by the hour and some bill by the case. Many attorneys will ask for a retainer to cover some of the up-front costs of their services. Regardless of how they bill, price should be one of the first things you discuss when interviewing potential attorneys.

Experience

Lawyers spend years of their time and thousands of their dollars to attend school and pass the bar. That said, you probably want a lot more than a lawyer who’s just graduated and is still wet behind the ears. Being able to make a compelling argument on the behalf of the accused takes years of practice. When searching for a lawyer, look for someone who has been practicing criminal defense consistently for at least a few years, who has the successful verdicts to show for it, and who preferably specializes in cases that are in the same vein as yours.

Reputation

This goes hand in hand with finding an experienced lawyer. The criminal defense attorney you select should have a stack of successful outcomes and may even have the verdicts listed on their website. They should also have reviews or testimonials from satisfied clients who can vouch for the attorney’s abilities. Additionally, talk to prospective attorneys to find out if they have built relationships, not only with judges and courtroom officials, but with expert witnesses and their peers as well.  A good attorney knows that networking is one of the keys to a successful practice.

Personality

This one isn’t really something you can research so much as something you can sense when consulting with attorneys on the phone or in person. Observe the way he dresses, the way he speaks to his staff, what his body language says about him, and how he converses with you. Having an attorney who is positive yet realistic, self-assured yet down-to earth, can go a long way towards helping you remain confident throughout the trail.

What to Ask When Searching for an Attorney

With so many lawyers out there, it can be hard to differentiate one from another when searching, or to remember who had the most experience or the best reputation. Below are a few good questions to ask each of the lawyers you speak to. Write down the answers as you go and it will be much simpler to compare, contrast, and make your selection:

  • Where did you go to law school?
  • When did you graduate?
  • Which bar associations are you a member of?
  • What portion of my case will you handle personally?
  • How many trials have you litigated?
  • Do you have experience with plea bargains? Do you negotiate them frequently?
  • Have you had much experience in the court where my trial will be held?
  • Have you dealt with charges like mine before? Have those trials been successful?
  • Do you see any potential problems with my case?
  • Can you provide me with references from some of your past clients?
  • What are your fees and how do you bill?

Need an Attorney but Low on Cash?

It’s unfortunate, but many people who have been accused of or charged with a crime find themselves financially unable to hire the attorney they deserve. In most of these cases, these folks are assigned a public defender and that’s that. The good news is, there are some options to explore. If you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, but are having trouble coming up with the funds to hire one, consider the following alternatives:

  • Speak with attorneys that you interview to see if they offer any kind of payment plan that allows you to pay in installations.
  • Ask if you can charge the attorney’s services to your credit card.
  • Explore the idea of taking out a small, short term loan to help provide you with immediate funds.
  • Talk to friends and family about whether they’d be willing to loan you money.
  • If you still have it, use your tax refund to help pay for lawyer’s fees.
  • Colorado Legal Services assists low-income individuals find low-cost legal assistance.
  • Metro Volunteer Lawyers helps the residents of certain counties in Colorado. An application and interview must be conducted to determine eligibility.
  • Colorado Poverty Law Project seeks to provide legal services to those who could otherwise not afford them.

At Wolf Law LLC., we have the experience, we have the know how, and we have the drive to fight for you. Our attorneys, Jeffrey Wolf and Colleen Kelley, work with the accused every day. It’s not our job to pass judgment, it’s only our job to offer our help, compassion, and understanding. If you’re in Colorado or the Denver Metro area and you need excellent and compassionate criminal defense representation, get in touch with us. Contact us or call 720-479-8574 to schedule a free consultation to talk about your options.