How to Choose the Right Criminal Defense Lawyer for Your Case

How to Choose the Right Criminal Defense Lawyer for Your Case

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, it’s in your best interest to seek legal counsel immediately. Even seemingly minor crimes can still result in a criminal record and harsh sentences, and having a record can haunt you for years, limiting your life, from where you work to where you live.

The reality is, when it comes to criminal defense, not all lawyers are created equal. The outcome of your case is largely dependent on having the right lawyer fighting for you. A Google search turns up thousands of results. All claiming to be the right attorney for you. So, how do you know who to choose?

Although the nature and severity of the alleged crime will factor heavily into how your case is handled, any person who is charged with a crime should ensure that their lawyer meets all of the following criteria.

1. Experience with the Charges You are Facing

Hiring an attorney who specializes in white collar crimes may not be the best choice to fight your sexual assault charge. Criminal law is complex and ever evolving, so it’s essential to work with a lawyer who has extensive experience in the specific crime with which you’ve been charged.

Do your homework and hire a lawyer who has a deep understanding of exactly what you’re going through.

2. Comfortability

Most law firms offer a free initial consultation. I recommend taking advantage of it. This will give you the opportunity to ask questions and see how you interact together. Personal chemistry is an underrated, yet very important factor when choosing legal representation. If you don’t feel comfortable with your lawyer, the legal process is going to be unnecessarily long and painful, and the outcome is less likely to be favorable.

The best lawyer-client relationships are collaborative. When you trust your lawyer, the relationship becomes more of a partnership, and the chances of a successful outcome increase dramatically.

Use these questions as a guide to determine if the lawyer you’re interviewing is right for you.

  • Am I comfortable talking openly to them?
  • Does my lawyer explain things in a way that I can understand?
  • Does my lawyer seem genuinely concerned about me and the outcome of my case?
  • Does my lawyer seem trustworthy?
  • Does my lawyer appear confident?

3. Word of Mouth and Online Reviews

One of the best ways to find a good defense lawyer is word of mouth. If you know someone who has been in a similar situation, ask who they used for legal counsel and if they were happy with their results. However, just because a lawyer was a good fit for someone else, doesn’t make them a good fit for you. So, don’t just take a name and run with it. Make sure you have the consultation, then do some online digging. With the wealth of information available on the internet, there is no excuse to not do your homework.

Choosing the right defense lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Check the state bar association website to see if the lawyer has a record of formal discipline, and search for reviews on Facebook and Google.

IMPORTANT TIP: Although reviews can assist in guiding you, they should not be taken as the deciding factor in your end decision.

One bad review shouldn’t necessarily keep you from working with a particular lawyer, but several bad reviews should be a clear red flag. The same goes for good reviews. Just because a lawyer has 2,000 good reviews and another has 200, doesn’t mean one lawyer is better than the other. A criminal case is a personal and private matter that a lot of people don’t feel comfortable sharing with the world. So, don’t let a lack of reviews stop you from scheduling a consultation either.

4. Courtroom Confidence

If your case moves to trial, you want to know that your lawyer has confidence in the courtroom. In addition to specifically asking about courtroom experience, a lawyer’s appearance and demeanor can give big clues as to how they will perform in a courtroom. If they are neatly dressed, well spoken, and confident, these characteristics will bode well in a courtroom setting.

On the other hand, if a lawyer appears nervous or disheveled, their arguments may be less convincing to a judge and jury. As with most things, exceptions exist, but confidence is generally the hallmark of any successful trial lawyer.

It is also important that your lawyer can take direction from you. Although they will control certain aspects of your case, like filing motions and calling witnesses, the big decisions, like whether to plead guilty or go to trial, or whether to try to make a deal, are YOUR call. Look for an attorney who takes the time to get to know you and your goals, and who actively integrates your input into the legal strategy.

5. Listen to Your Gut

At the end of the day, trust your instincts. If something feels off, don’t be afraid to walk away. Remember, you are interviewing the defense lawyer, not the other way around. Ultimately, this is your battle to fight, and you need the right lawyer by your side if you’re going to win.

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges and in need of an experienced criminal lawyer, please contact Nathan Akamine.

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Violating probation: What to expect.

Violating probation: What to expect.

If you’ve violated probation and now find yourself facing a possible conviction, you don’t deserve punishment due to an oversight or accident, regardless of why you’re serving probation. As your probation violation attorney, my number one priority will be convincing the judge not to inflict severe repercussions for a simple fault in judgment.

What can I expect from the probation violation process?

Although different than a normal criminal case, probation violations generally follow the same process:

  1. Your probation officer will inform the court that you have violated one or more probation requirements.
  2. The court will schedule a probation hearing and/or authorize a warrant for your arrest.
  3. If you’re arrested, there will be a hearing and a bond could be set.
  4. You’ll receive a Statement of Violations, where you’ll be informed of the terms of probation that you allegedly violated.
  5. You are entitled to a Probable Cause hearing to determine if there is a reasonable basis for the alleged violation.
  6. You are also entitled to an Evidentiary Hearing in which the State must prove that a violation did occur.

What are the possible consequences of violating probation?

  • Perform community service
  • The length of your probation may be extended.
  • There may be additional restrictions added to your probation, such as an earlier curfew.
  • You may be forced to have regular drug testing or ordered into drug treatment.
  • You could be ordered to attend classes or programs based on the offense (such as anger management).
  • Counseling with a therapist on a regular basis.
  • You could be sentenced to serve time in jail.

Whichever judge assigned the initial probation ruling will also be the judge determining the appropriate punishment for the violation. This is important to note, since they may feel as though they did the defendant a favor when worse consequences could have been originally dealt. Because of this, the judge could decide a harsher punishment than is now necessary.

Therefore, it’s important to your case to have a probation violation attorney speak on your behalf, as this can make the difference between fulfilling a minor repercussion or serving jail time.

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Can a social media post result in criminal charges?

Can a social media post result in criminal charges?

If you’ve spent any time on social media, it’s likely that you read abusive and oftentimes offensive statements posted or left as comments. Most people are under the assumption the things said online are without repercussions. However, that may not be the case.

Perhaps you remember hearing about Justin Olsen, an 18-year-old Ohio man who was arrested last year on federal charges after investigators claimed that he made multiple entries online posting his support of mass shootings, and cited a target of Planned Parenthood.

Regardless of Olsen telling the FBI that his posts were “only a joke”, he was booked on state charges of telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing, and the federal charge of threatening a federal law enforcement officer.

Although Olsen’s charges are considered to be severe for online behavior, a malicious or threatening post may qualify as defamation. Defamation is the publication of a statement about someone that hurts their reputation in the eyes of members of society.

Online actions can have severe consequences.

You may remember a case where social media played a major part in a case against two football players who were eventually found guilty of raping an intoxicated 16-year-old girl.

The victim says she doesn’t remember much of what happened the night when Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, assaulted her at a friend’s party, and that she only became aware of it after a video surfaced on social media. A key piece of evidence was an Instagram photo of the boys carrying the girl out of the house by her arms and legs.

That being said, photos and videos, whether posted publicly or obtained by police, have to meet certain criteria:

  • They must be authenticated, meaning the prosecutors have to prove the images are what they seem and have not been altered or staged;
  • they can not be shown out of context

Additional charges were later brought against two teenage girls in the same case after police were shown twitter posts threatening the physical harm to the victim if she didn’t drop the charges.

Can I be arrested for posting a video?

Richard Godbehere uploaded a 5-minute video of himself driving, cracking open a beer, then proceeding to take a drink. He then stated “We all know drinking and driving is against the law. You’re not supposed to do that. But they didn’t say anything about driving and then drinking.”

A joke, maybe. Against the law, definitely. He was surprised when the police showed up at his house prepared to arrest him on charges of consuming alcohol while operating a vehicle.

He stated the video was meant as a parody and claimed there wasn’t actually beer in the bottle, to which Police Chief Darryl Perry stated: “Our traffic laws are in place for a reason, and Mr. Godbehere’s blatant disregard for those laws is the type of behavior that won’t be tolerated.”

The moral of the story, be careful what you say online. It can, and will be used against you in a court of law.

If you or someone you love is in need of an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer, call Nathan Akamine.