What Factors Should A Military Person Consider When Hiring A Defense Attorney?
Military service members facing civilian criminal charges require and deserve excellent criminal defense lawyers. This means the defense team should be closely supervised by a real criminal law specialist. Unfortunately too many uncertified defense attorneys with less than 20 years of experience are handling cases without supervision or worse, all by themselves without a legal team to support them. This is ridiculous: the prosecutor is part of a legal team with a budget that is virtually unlimited.
Everybody is looking for answers. They need to refine their questions instead. Some of the questions that should be asked include things like “How long have you practiced law? Do you practice criminal law and nothing else?” A jack of all trades masters none. This is precisely why the number one question to ask is “are you certified as a specialist in criminal law by the Florida Bar?”
The answer is either going to be a “yes” or a long story of why not. When you get the long story excuse, the lawyer you are speaking with usually lacks serious case trial experience. Maybe the defense attorney has never handled a serious case or actually taken a case to trial. Perhaps they failed or cannot pass the specialization exam.
While researching a defense attorney, you should also be prepared to ask “If you are not certified, do you lack the required trial experience with serious cases such as murder or sexual battery? Did you fail the exam?” If you are seriously considering an uncertified defense attorney as Lead Counsel, just mentally prepare yourself for a less favorable plea bargain and a loss at trial.
Additionally you should want to know if the lawyer has experience leading strike teams for military officers with solid personnel. Defense teams go by a lot of different names but basically in 2016 and in the future, the old doctor making home visits type of way that attorneys used to practice law is gone. Legal teams are how things are done in the modern world if you want effective legal representation. Therefore asking if someone has experience leading a strike team is very important.
People often ask a lot of questions that are actually useless. “How does it look? What are the odds?” Everybody wants some reassurance and most military members and their families are not one person crime waves. They may have been falsely accused, the victim of a mistake or simply made a mistake.
Here is my favorite example: how does this fact pattern sound to you? My client confessed to shooting a man to death. Not exactly the best start to a case. The odds and percentages? “Not good” would be a gentle way to put it. Yet that case was dismissed.
Working with a solid defense team, we found out that the person charged was a juvenile of fairly low IQ. He actually thought that if he gave a false confession, it would be like the other 15 or 16 times he had been arrested for minor things. He really believed that his mom would be able to just pick him up from the police station. When he found out that he was actually going to jail and going to be charged with murder, he tried to tell the police officers what happened. But by then the police were not interested in hearing any more – at the end of the “confession”, we heard the recording with him saying, “Let me tell you what really hap …”, and he never got to finish “happened”. They cut it off. So, how did it look? What were the odds and percentages? They didn’t matter: the result is what matters.
Finally, the single biggest mistake people make is doing their own “legal research”. You don’t know how or what to research. You are not a member of the Florida Bar with a law degree. You’re not going to be logging in to Fastase or Westlaw to do computer aided case law legal research, and that is something that laypeople just do not understand in terms of importance. The ability to get behind the pay wall and to know how to use legal search engines to help a client is critical.
For more information on Factors To Consider In Hiring An Attorney, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 423-0035 today.
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