1) Who will be your Lawyer (For Law Firms with multiple attorneys)? And who is actually handling your case including evidence investigation, court appearances, answering questions you have, and completing the work from start to finish?
Fact: Sometimes your Arizona DUI or Criminal attorney gets reassigned to another case midway through yours. Many times, work is delegated to other non-attorneys. Sometimes the non-attorneys are qualified to perform a particular task, but not always. And sometimes, the Attorney whom you think is handling your case from start to finish is merely supervising their work as well as many others. This author is not saying it is bad or good; just that you have a right to know. Then you can make an educated choice and feel comfortable hiring that Law Firm based on those circumstances.
2) Are you able to meet with your assigned lawyer before your agree to hire your firm?
Fact: Some Arizona or Maricopa County public defenders, court appointed DUI and Criminal defense lawyers or law firms, due to heavy case loads or other reasons outside of their control, do not meet their clients or the defendant until your first court appearance. In these cases you usually required to provide a photo ID of some sort for the court appointed attorney’s file or the law firm so they will recognize you when they arrive to court to greet you for the first time! In many of these cases, no work was done in your defense from the time you paid your fees until that court date. Unfortunately, this is a preview of what the rest of your defense will be like. An Attorney should not just show up and hope for the best in court. This is the quickest route to a conviction, and ineffective defense. A good DUI lawyer or criminal defense attorney will have reviewed, your case well in advance and have a clear understanding of the charges, evidence, weaknesses in the prosecutions, and an idea of what defense strategies will provide you with the best outcome in your case based on those factors. A good AZ DUI or criminal defense attorney should be prepared to educate the prosecution and judge on the weaknesses or flaws in Arizona’s criminal or DUI charges against you, not the other way around.
3) What are the fees including pre-trial services and trial if one is needed?
Fact: Some Criminal & DUI Attorneys and Law firms in Arizona charge a two tier fee: a) one is for pre-trial defense and b) separate charge if a trial is needed. Other Attorneys charge what some call a “global fee” which includes both pre-trial defense and a trial if needed. Global fees are usually higher, since they include the services of a trial. Keep in mind that in Maricopa County only about 2% to 5% of DUI charges ever go to trial. This means the rest are dismissed, charges reduced to non-criminal charges, or a plea bargain is negotiated with the prosecution and you/your defense for 95% to 98% for DUI cases.
4) Does the Attorney charge a flat fee or by the hour? Will the full payment be required up front or is the attorney willing to negotiate breaking the fee up into payments if needed?
Fact: Arizona Criminal defense and DUI defense Attorney Fees are almost always negotiable in amount and how it will be paid off. Whatever is agreed upon, make sure you have it in writing and it is included in the fee agreement. Make sure you read it and are given a copy of it before you leave the office.
5) What is the Attorney’s background, defense and litigation experience, training, and qualifications relating to the issues in my particular case, how many such cases have they defended in the past?
Fact: Former Arizona Prosecutors usually have a great deal of litigation and defense experience. Some Attorneys may have a lot of training, education, experience and credentials…but not in DUI or Criminal Defense or specifically the charges for which you need a defense.
6) How often does the Attorney defend cases in the court you are required to appear? Are they familiar with the judges and prosecution in that city or jurisdiction?
Fact: It never hurts for your Arizona Criminal Lawyer or DUI Attorney to know who you will be up against. Many former prosecutors know the current prosecutors if they worked in that jurisdiction. Also, if an attorney defends cases in a particular court often, they have a dialog and familiarity with the prosecution’s methods and strategies, and whether or not a judge is objective, and more or less lenient on a particular topic. Also, the judges and prosecution over time know who the good attorneys for which they have earned their respect. This is a plus during proceedings and negotiations on your behalf.
7) What is that attorney’s current case load? Will they be able to put the necessary time needed to build and mount an effective defense on your behalf?
Fact: Good DUI and Criminal Defense attorneys in Arizona will regulate their caseloads to make sure they have ample time to defend your cases and put 100% into providing an effective defense. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Particularly with County, State and Federal fund and staffing cutbacks, the court appointed or public defenders have heavy caseloads and fewer attorneys to defend the cases for the defendant’s that choose and qualify for their services. This means less time to work each case.