Getting arrested for a DUI can be one of the scariest experiences in a person's life. This is particularly true because many people charged with DUI have never been in trouble with the law before. A lack of experience with the criminal justice system can leave anyone feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. Unfortunately, hiring a DUI attorney can add to the stress, especially if you hire the wrong one. With so many attorneys out there, how do you know which one is right for you? Asking these 5 questions at your initial consultation will give you the information you need to make an informed decision and hire the right attorney to represent you.
1) How much experience do you have handling DUI cases?
When hiring a DUI attorney, you want to find out right from the start how much experience he or she has handling DUIs. You should never hire an attorney to represent you in a DUI, unless DUI work is a primary part of the firm's business. Many attorneys who practice other types of law or specialize in other areas will tell you they can handle your DUI case. Don't be fooled! DUI law is a complex niche in the law and your case should only be trusted to an attorney with DUI experience.
2) Does most of your business come from advertising or referrals?
It is likely you have seen more attorney advertisements than you ever wanted to. From tv commercials, to billboards and/or targeted mail, there is no shortage of attorneys out there trying to get your business. However, the way a firm brings in most of its new clients is very telling. When someone provides a service for you and does a great job, you want to tell your friends and family about it. Hiring a lawyer is no different. If a firm stays in business based on word-of-mouth referrals that is a sure sign the firm is providing excellent service and making clients happy. Make sure you hire the attorney who is going to do the best job, not the attorney with the most tv commercials.
3) How much do you charge and what is included in that fee?
Fees for a DUI vary based on many factors. Before your attorney begins working on your case, you should have a thorough discussion about the fees you will be required to pay and what will be included. Most DUI lawyers charge a flat fee that will cover your DUI representation. You need to be clear about what is included in that fee. Will it cover issues with the DMV associated with a DUI? Will it cover your case if it proceeds to a trial? Will it cover any civil traffic tickets associated with your DUI stop? Make sure you know exactly what is included in the fee to avoid unexpected costs down the road. You should also pay attention to what the flat fee amount is; a cheaper quote does not mean you are getting the best deal. For example, if a lawyer quotes you a fee of $500 when the going rate in your area for a DUI is $3,500-$5,000, ask yourself why this attorney is so much cheaper than everyone else? In the world of legal fees, you get what you pay for. Hiring a cheap attorney may end up costing you much more in the long run so make sure you know who you are hiring and what you are paying for.
4) Have you taken DUI cases to jury trial?
If you watch modern tv, you may imagine that all attorney spend their days in court arguing in front of juries. However, this is simply not reality. In fact, the majority of lawyers have never even tried a case in front of a jury! Hiring a lawyer who is afraid to take a case to jury trial (or has that reputation) can harm your chances of a successful result. Ask the lawyer you are interviewing if they have DUI jury trial experience and if they are willing to take your case to trial if necessary. If not, you may want to keep looking.
5) What is your strategy for my case?
Many people go to an initial consultation meeting with a lawyer, sign a contract and leave the office feeling more confused than when they went in. At a DUI consultation, the attorney should be able to give you a game plan for your case. Ask what the next steps are and what type of result is likely based on the facts of your case. If the attorney can't give you an answer, or is unwilling to take the time to explain it to you, run for the hills!
At the Hebert Law Group, we know you have many options when looking for a DUI attorney and our hope is that you make an informed decision. We pride ourselves on the work we have done in the Tampa Bay area representing clients faced with DUI charges. If you need representation for a DUI, call our office today to set up a free, one-hour consultation at 727-573-2622.