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.

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.

What happens if I’ve been falsely accused of domestic violence?

What happens if I’ve been falsely accused of domestic violence?

According to the CDC**, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience some form of physical violence by their partner at some point during their lifetimes. About 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men experience sexual violence during their lifetimes.

Note: This article has no intention of dismaying or minimizing the serious nature of valid domestic violence charges, nor undermining the suffering of victims of intimate partner violence (IPV). It is intended to raise awareness and address the plight of the falsely accused.

Domestic Violence extends beyond physical harm.

Charges can result from physical, emotional, sexual, financial, mental or psychological, destruction of personal property, stalking, and cyberbullying. Whether the charges are misdemeanors or felonies depends on the allegations, the age of the individuals, and whether there were weapons involved.

Under duress, it is not uncommon for one party to call the police and fabricate a story in order to end a heated argument, retaliate, or try to gain an edge in pending child custody hearings. Once the charges are filed, they can not easily be retracted (dropped), and can adversely affect the life and future of the accused. The decision to go forward with charges is completely up to the State Prosecutor on the case.

Is Domestic Violence a Misdemeanor or a Felony?

Domestic Violence can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the seriousness of the charge, and both are separated into degrees, First Degree being the most serious. For an offense that has caused physical harm to the alleged victim, a defendant can be charged with anything from a 1st-degree misdemeanor to a 3rd-degree felony. The threat of physical harm against an alleged victim can result in being charged with anything from a fourth-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree misdemeanor.

What are the Penalties of Domestic Violence in Ohio?

  • 1st-degree misdemeanor – up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1000
  • 2nd-degree misdemeanor – up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $750
  • 3rd-degree misdemeanor – up to 60 days in jail and fines up to $500
  • 5th-degree felony – 6-12 months in prison and fines up to $2500
  • 4th-degree felony – 6-18 months in prison and fines up to $5000
  • 3rd-degree felony – 9 months -3 years in prison and fines up to $10,000

If the victim was pregnant at the time of the offense – minimum 6 months-1 year in prison
*depending on the severity of the incident

Hire an Experienced Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

Attorney Nathan Akamine is an experienced criminal defense lawyer that will work to dismiss or lessen the charges against you. As a private practice litigator and former Franklin County Prosecutor, he knows how to mitigate your charges and will personally work with you from start to finish.


5 Things not to do when facing assault charges

5 Things not to do when facing assault charges

You may not have intended to get involved in a fight, but one thing led to another and you ended up getting into a violent altercation and the police got involved. Now, you’re facing assault charges and you’re not sure where to turn, and making the wrong choices can be detrimental to your case. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common mistakes that people make when they’re facing an assault charge.

Talking to Police.

Law enforcement officers are trained to manipulate you to get what they want, this includes using evidence against you. Let’s say you’ve been involved in a fight and the police are called. They may take you aside, hand you an ice pack for your swollen knuckles, tell you the other guy is clearly at fault and ask you for your side of the story.

It’s human nature to want to explain yourself and tell your side, so you do. At that point, the police arrest you, put you in handcuffs, and charge you with assault. An unfair but legal action, and also possibly avoidable. You’ve heard of your Miranda Rights. They begin with “You have the right to remain silent”. That’s not just for after you’ve been arrested. In most cases, you don’t have to speak to the police…ever. Exercise this right and stay silent until you speak with an attorney.

Talking to other people about the assault.

Being involved in a fight can be traumatic, and again, it’s natural to want to talk about what happened or ask for advice. Just like talking to the police can hurt you, so can talking to other people, including those closest to you like siblings and parents. It’s in your best interest to not discuss the incident with anyone other than your lawyer.

Posting about what happened on social media.

Social media is a place to share details about your life, your family, and your job, but there is such a thing as oversharing. Never post about an incident online when you’re facing charges, even if it’s to publicly claim your innocence. I can’t stress this enough. Prosecutors love blowing up huge images and Tweets for the benefit of the jury and using your words against you. So don’t post anything, not even a fist emoji. It can be taken out of context and turned around to hurt you.

Contacting the other person or persons involved in the assault.

Maybe you want to apologize or clear the air, especially if the alleged victim was a friend. Regardless of the reason, do not do it. Anything you say may be used against you in court. Even if your intentions were good.

There are lots of things you can do that will hurt your case, but there are also things you can do to improve your situation. Give yourself the best chances of putting this behind you. Call defense attorney Nathan Akamine to schedule a free legal consultation!