We get the emergency call from you in the middle of the night from our answering service. We learn that you have just been arrested. You may be at roadside (yes, we often are successful in getting the law enforcement officer to let us talk with you), in booking at the municipal police or sheriff’s office or in jail. We tell you to not waive your Miranda rights. We tell you not to talk about the specifics of the charges since the telephone call may be recorded and may be overheard by curious bystanders. Your legal rights are protected if you follow our instructions.
“Get Me Out of Jail Now!”
You ask that we get you out of jail as soon as possible. We tell you about how a first appearance before a judge works and how you may be able to bond out before the first appearance. You want us to attend your first appearance to represent you or to call someone you trust to post a bond. We ask you how you are going to pay for our legal services. You are in a dilemma, particularly if this is the first time you have been arrested. Do you spend your limited financial resources on paying a bail bond agency to get you out of jail and hire an attorney or can you only afford one or the other? This is a tough decision. Oftentimes, your friends and family will raise your bond money since you want out “now.” They might even agree to pay your attorney’s fees.
Used or New Car v. Potential Loss of Freedom–Which is Worth More to You?
Since years of potential loss of freedom may be involved depending on the charge, this is an important decision. We often ask you, “What is your freedom worth to you?” and “Are you planning long term or short term in your decision making?” We point out that you may spend thousands of dollars on a used or new car or get financing to pay for such a car, but when it comes to looking at spending years behind bars, you balk at paying for the legal services provided by an experienced criminal defense attorney. Although we cannot and will not guarantee a particular outcome, we will zealously represent you and keep you informed all along the way. The decision on how to resolve your case always rests with you.
How to Know if the Attorney is a Good Choice
Do you go the cheapest way and hire an attorney who has the lowest fee? Or, do you check the credentials of the attorney by checking a web site to see what kind of experience the attorney has? Is the attorney a former prosecutor? Has the attorney been in the county for a long time? Is the attorney referral based? Is the attorney a life member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (FACDL)? Is the attorney “AV” rated (the highest rating in the country) by Martindale-Hubbell, a well respected listing of attorneys that is used by lawyers throughout the country for referral purposes? Has the attorney been involved in local and state bar associations?
And, the best criminal defense attorneys have 24-hour answering services, have helpful web sites and accept your collect phone calls from the jail.
Do Not Make Your Decision to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney on Price Alone or “You Get What You Pay For in Life”
You may be surprised to learn that the services of a well qualified, experienced criminal defense attorney will be less expensive than you think. Established criminal defense attorneys often will accept your credit card, personal check or cash as means or payment. They will have you sign a retainer agreement that explains what legal services they are providing and will give you a copy for your records. They will fully inform you of your legal options so you can make a proper decision on how to proceed.
Do not make your decision on price alone, keeping in mind that you often get what you pay for in life.
Before you hire an attorney, take the time to check the attorney’s credentials. You comparison “shop” before you buy a used or new car. Should you do any less when your liberty interests are at stake?