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When looking for a lawyer, remember to shop around wisely. Sure, we all have budgets and expenses to worry about, but this is not the time to give your case to the lowest bidder. While it is natural to think that in a profession such as law, all lawyers are of roughly equal quality, the reality is much different. Of course, this is not to say that price and quality are always proportional. The take away is, do not base your decision solely on how much money the attorney charges, especially if you have serious reservations about his ability to represent you. Getting convicted of a DUI charge will be costly in myriad ways, besides money.
Lots and lots of people get arrested for driving under the influence ever day, and this area of criminal law can be quite lucrative. Getting listed in a referral service can mean big business for an attorney. But, these services can vary greatly in their criteria for getting listed; some may be more stringent, requiring certain types of experience or a minimum number of years in practice, while others may not have much of a requirement besides paying the fee to be listed. If you go this route, do not just blindly choose a lawyer suggested. Investigate how lawyers are chosen.
Getting arrested and charged with a crime is a scary thing; you may be confused and not sure what is going to happen. Your first instinct may be to hire the first DUI attorney you come across and get the ball rolling; but this is not the way to proceed. Take a breath and slow down. Write out a list of questions you have and ask them to each lawyer you meet with. What are your options? How will a conviction affect your work and personal life? What is the attorney’s experience with DUI cases? Is the attorney you are meeting with the one who will actually be working the case or will it be passed off to someone else in the office? What are the legal fees?
Many DUI lawyers recommend meeting with at least five firms or attorneys before making your decision; if you visit firms, choose a mix of small and large to get a sense of which is better suited to you. Know that in a bigger firm, however, your case may be handled primarily by a junior attorney who simply passes off the case file to the lead the day of your hearing. This could be problematic for you.
If you meet with any lawyer who automatically suggests pleading guilty right off the bat, move on to someone else. Lawyers who appear ready to fight the charge may get you a better deal right off the bat since a prosecutor may be willing to back off a bit and offer a more attractive deal; you may even get as far as acquittal or getting the charges completely dismissed. When interviewing lawyers, look for ones that have experience taking the case to trial—they know the system, the laws and how to fight the case in court.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about all things law; if you are in need of a DUI attorney in Richmond, VA, she recommends you visit CNRLawyers.com.
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