5 Important Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Criminal Defense Attorney
There are a few ways to make sure you get the right lawyer for your case – a skilled lawyer who will fight for your rights – so you’ll have the best chance of Winning! And, being a Criminal Defense Attorney in Georgia for OVER 20 years, I can offer you some advice on the following topics. Read below to learn more about what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer.
#1: “How many years has the attorney practiced criminal law?”
Of course, the longer the time – the more training and experience he will have. Ten years or more gives you a good probability that the attorney will have specific legal knowledge to use in getting you the best outcome for your case. This specific knowledge not only relates to knowing the laws, but also knowing the other lawyers, prosecutors & judges, and how they operate. This experience also helps the attorney to choose the best strategy for your case.
#2: “Does the criminal defense attorney focus his practice on criminal law?”
Do you want your attorney’s case load to include legitimizing a child, giving bankruptcy advice, handling divorces, child custody, real estate, wills and estates, probating estates and throw in for good measure-criminal defense. Obviously, you would rather be represented by an attorney who focuses his practice on criminal defense.
#3: “How many trials has he handled?”
Obviously, you would rather have someone who has tried a lot of cases, the more the better! An attorney with that level of experience is going to be better at such things as jury selection, closing arguments and a number of other critical elements in a criminal case. You don’t want to get someone just out of law school who lacks courtroom experience.
#4: After reviewing your case, “Can he list specific issues to use to defend your case?”
For example: In a DUI case, if the officer failed to follow the proper procedure in the administration of the HGN and Walk & Turn field sobriety tests a good attorney can tell you exactly what the officer did wrong! Rather than “Let me talk with the solicitor and see what we can work out!”
#5: “Will he give you a flat fee price or charge an hourly rate that can go on forever?”
After an attorney does a thorough job of determining what kind of work is needed for your case, if he is experienced, he
should be able to quote you a set price. After all, you want to know what it will cost you – without having to worry about the attorney that drags things out to run up the fee!
Ok, so you’re probably wondering what my answers would be to the above questions. I’ll lay it out for you. Here’s what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer:
I have over 20 years of experience in criminal defense in Georgia, – or in other words, I’ve been around the block a few times. I am a former prosecutor, having worked as an Assistant District Attorney for the state of Georgia. So, I understand how the prosecutor, the government attorney thinks and acts. And let me tell you – this inside knowledge is a real advantage when representing client with criminal charges.
My practice is focused on criminal defense. I don’t spend my time fighting over who gets the table & chairs in a divorce. I spend my time aggressively defending clients in their criminal cases.
Over the years, I have represented hundreds of client facing serious criminal change; from murder to the largest marijuana grow case(s) in the state.
After reviewing your case, we will tell you up front the specific defenses we believe are available to you! I’ll tell you what the officer did wrong – not just some weak response like: “Let me talk to the prosecutor and see what we can do.”
After you share with me everything I need to know to analyze your case, you will receive a Flat Fee Guarantee to handle your case – That means you will know how much it’s going to cost before we start. This way you will know that we’ll work hard on your case and push to resolve it, in as short a time as possible. You see, we’ll have no reason to drag things out because our fee won’t be based on the number of hours spent on your case. What that means to you is that you can get this situation over with as soon as possible and get on with your life.
After all, isn’t that what you’re after? – to improve your chances of getting the best outcome, being kept up to date, knowing what it will cost, and getting this handled so you can get on with the rest of your life!
A Marriage Between a Client and Their Attorney: How to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
My wife Danielle and I first met at a mutual friend’s UGA game day party. She brought tomato sandwiches and – I knew I was in trouble when my mother and sister, who were also at the party, said “ got to try these tomato sandwiches – they are the best”. Now of course when I actually met Danielle, my friends introduced me as a lawyer and along with some off-color lawyer jokes, they said “You can’t believe a word he says”. After, meeting Danielle, that day – the rest is history!
We knew each other for about two years until our actual first date. I like to tell people that she had to “chase me for two years” but it was really the other way around. We dated for two years and were engaged for a year. You see I was a bachelor for many years and I wanted to make sure I was ready to get married – and I only wanted to do it once. So we didn’t rush into it. While we dated and throughout our engagement we were the best of friends and our personalities synced.
Much like a marriage finding the right lawyer has to be a good personality fit, someone you feel comfortable with and value their opinion. I have answered the 5 questions that someone should ask about what to look for in criminal defense lawyer and I am sharing this information with you. Please read the answers, share them with your friends and family. Danielle and I hope that this will be helpful for anyone in need of an attorney.
First of all, you must ask – “How many years has he practiced criminal law?”
Of course, the longer the time – the more training and experience he will have. Ten years or more gives you a good probability that he will have specific legal knowledge to use in getting you the best outcome for your case. This specific knowledge not only relates to knowing the laws but also knowing the other lawyers, judges, and how they operate,… and being able to figure out the best strategy for your case.
Secondly, you must ask- “Does the attorney limit his practice to criminal law?”
Do you want your attorney’s caseload to include legitimizing a child, giving bankruptcy advice, handling divorces, child custody, real estate, wills and estates, probating estates and throw in for good measure-criminal defense. Obviously, you would rather be represented by an attorney who limits his practice to criminal defense.
Third, you must ask – “How many trials has he handled?”
Obviously, you would rather have someone who has tried a lot of cases, ideally 100 or more. An attorney with that level of experience is going to be better at such things as jury selection, negotiating reduced sentences, closing arguments, and a number of critical elements in a criminal case. You don’t want to get someone just out of law school! After all do you want a brain surgeon on his first operation or an experienced surgeon with many successful surgeries under his belt?
Something else you want to know is – “After reviewing your case, Can he give you specific issues on defenses in your case?”
For Example: The officer failed to follow procedure in the administration of the HGN and Walk and Turn Field Sobriety Tests. Rather than- I’ll talk with the solicitor and see what we can work out!
Last, but not least, you must ask – “Will he give you a flat fee price or charge an hourly rate which can go on forever?”
After an attorney does a thorough job of determining what kind of work is needed for your case, if he is experienced, he should be able to quote you a net price. After all, you want to know what it will cost you – without having to worry about an attorney who could drag things out to run up his fee!
Ok, so you’re probably wondering what my answers would be to the above questions, and what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer. I’ll lay it out for you.
- As I mentioned I have over 16 years of experience in criminal defense in Georgia, — or in other words, I’ve been around the block a few times. I am a former prosecutor, having worked as an Assistant District Attorney in the Alapaha Judicial Circuit. So, I understand how the other side thinks and acts. And let me tell you – this inside knowledge is a real edge in criminal defense.
- My practice is 100% criminal defense. I don’t spend my time fighting over who gets the table & chairs in a divorce, I spend my time aggressively defending clients in their criminal cases.
- Over the years, I have handled several hundred trials.
- After reviewing your case, I will tell you up front the specific defenses I believe are available to you! I’ll tell you what the officer did wrong – not just some good response like – I’ll talk to the prosecutor to see what we can do.
- After you share with me everything I need to know to analyze your case, you will receive a Flat Fee Guarantee from me to handle your case – so you will know how much it’s going to cost before I start. This way you will know that I’ll do a great job on your case in as short a time as possible.
You see, I’ll have no reason to drag things out because my fee won’t be based on the number of hours I work on your case. What that means to you is that you can get this stressful situation over with as soon as possible and get on with your life.
After all, isn’t that what you’re after – to improve your chances of getting the best outcome, being kept up to date, knowing what it will cost, and getting this handled so you can get on with the rest of your life!
Learn More About What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Lawyer
To learn more about what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer so that you can hire the best one for your case, contact George McCranie Law Firm today.
How to Survive the Trauma of Being Charged With a Crime
After almost 20 years of practicing law, one thing that has struck me is that emotional response of a client to being charged with a crime has no correlation to the seriousness of the charge.
Many times I have seen clients who have been charged with DUI seem to have an emotional and psychological response that is significantly greater than clients that have been charged with a more serious offenses such as robbery or aggravated assault. I believe it is generally understood that being charged with any crime can be a traumatic experience.
Accept What Happened and Seek Help
My first advice would be to accept that this situation is part of your life. A criminal charge may or may not have an effect on your future, but for right now, it does have an impact. Keep in mind criminal charges don’t just go away. You can’t just ignore it. You must deal with it. If you don’t go to court a bench warrant will be issued and you will go to jail so it is better to accept what has happened and do what you need to do to protect yourself.
Take responsibility for the situation and do whatever is necessary to resolve it. In a criminal case this usually means hiring a criminal defense attorney. If you learn that you are the target of a criminal investigation or have actually been charged with a crime, hire an experienced and knowledgeable attorney — and be aware of what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer. Your attorney is trained to do what you can’t do for yourself.
Once you have hired an experienced criminal defense attorney that you are comfortable with defending your case, let go of the worry by trusting your attorney to guide you through the criminal process. I have told many clients, “Stop worrying and let me get started helping you.” It is a slow process and while you may want the whole thing to go away quickly, so you can get on with your life, it is in your best interest to let the criminal process work and that can take some time. I have had clients that wanted to “plead guilty just to get the case over with” and move on with their life.
Place Your Trust in Your Attorney
Inevitably the clients that just wanted to “plead guilty to get it over with” regret their decision. Slow down; get on with your life by putting the case in the hands of your attorney. That is part of what you are paying for. To do this you must trust your attorney. If you don’t trust your attorney — get a new one. And know what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing the criminal charge defines you. Only a very small fraction of people caught up in the criminal justice system are truly bad people. Most are in the system because they’ve made a bad decision and some did so for reasons that relate to a problem they have been struggling for a period of time. It may be addiction to drugs. It may be learning to control anger impulses. There are as many reasons for making a bad decision as there are ways of acting badly. The repeatable success of specialized courts such as drug courts attest to the reality that addressing the cause pays off for individuals and society.
One Bad Decision Doesn’t Define You
If you have made a bad decision or acted badly it does not mean you are a bad person. It just means you have to take responsibility and work on resolving whatever caused you to make the bad decision.
Think about what outcome you need in the criminal case. Communicate that clearly to your attorney. Be realistic. Your attorney can help you understand what is and is not realistic given the facts and law governing your case. But only you can decide what outcome you can accept and live with in the long term. Don’t be the person who pleads guilty only to regret it minutes after leaving the courtroom. I have told clients literally thousands of times over 20 years—”I can’t guarantee that I will win your case and if you find an attorney that does promise you a win—he is either a fool or a liar, no one can tell the future.”
Ultimately, you may not get the outcome you desire and you need to accept that. However, you will have at least claimed responsibility for your situation and your own decisions which is far more important than being left with the feeling that you let yourself be bullied by the system, persecuted by the prosecutor, wronged by the jury or betrayed by your attorney. You are going to have to make the decisions and its best that you start to really think about your options before you ever get to the court.
Don’t Take Things Said in Court Personally
Don’t take anything that is said in court personally. Being charged with a crime is unsettling to say the least. It may feel like you are being personally attacked and in some ways that is exactly the situation. But understand that the system is large and rarely can it distinguish you from the masses of others similarly caught up in its machinery. The people who make the system work do not know you. You are a stranger to them. So don’t take anything they say personally.
A prosecutor once told a friend of mine who had been wrongly accused of DUI “I know your kind!” while pointing his index finger stiffly and aggressively at my friend’s faced. Well, if you knew my friend you would know the prosecutor couldn’t have been more wrong. He did not know anything about the person who stood before him. But to be fair to the prosecutor, he really wasn’t in a situation to know much about my friend other than what was written in the police report.
The prosecutor also been blinded by seeing hundreds of similar police reports in DUI cases involving similar charges. It’s very easy for people to become hardened by their own bias and prosecutors are no exception. I should point out here that I know many very fine prosecutors who are aware of this danger and actively work to avoid this kid of pitfall. My point is not that all prosecutors automatically assume you are a bad person. Some will and some won’t. But, the important point is that for you to try not to take the charge or what the prosecutor may say about you personally. You know who you are. Just remember, they do not know who you are.
Don’t Let Your Actions in Court Sway the Judge or Jury
It’s your attorney’s job to humanize you for the prosecutor, the jury and the judge. Don’t make the task harder by responding in a negative way in or out of court to what you perceive as a personal attack. This is especially important if your case goes to trial.
Clients can be their own worst enemy at trial by rolling their eyes during witness testimony, flopping back in their chair, or making noises during the trial. The judge sees it, and more importantly the jury sees it. The jurors have been asked to pass judgement on the defendant and unfortunately, they are provided little information about the defendant upon which to make that determination. It is very hard for jurors to think highly of a person who cannot control their emotions in court.
One of the worst things a client can do at trial is creating an emotional outburst if the jury comes back with a guilty verdict. The prosecutor sees it. The judge sees it. It sends a clear signal that the client cannot control himself or herself. It telegrams the message that this person is not a good candidate for probation and needs a structured environment such as prison or Probation Detention Center.
Being caught up in the criminal justice system can be frustrating, scary, and cause you to react in ways you never would otherwise. Being conscious of those feelings and beginning early on to manage them will benefit you in many ways as your case moves through the system.
It is never fun being charged with a crime, but if you take personal responsibility for your situation and the reasons you were charged in the first place, you are going to have a better outcome and you may just find out that you are a better person in the end than you were before, irrespective of what happened in court.
No matter what the criminal charge, I’m ready to defend you every step of the way. It’s important to know what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer, and to get one who can help you obtain a successful outcome. Contact me via phone or email to discuss your case further.
Is a Private Attorney Better Than a State Appointed Attorney for Criminal Defense?
Is a private attorney better than a state appointed attorney for criminal defense? The public defender assigned to my case doesn’t seem interested in returning my phone calls or negotiating my case with the prosecutor. I’ve never been in trouble in my life or even had a traffic citation.
I was told that I am not eligible for pre-trial diversion, and that I would be on probation for 6 years, have a fine and need to attend anger management — all from a charge of assault that I obtained after defending myself from an individual in a bar that thought he should touch me inappropriately. In general, does one get a better outcome with a private attorney?
I don’t believe that you should look at this as a difference between Public Defenders and Private Attorneys. There are both good and bad attorneys in each categories. This advice is good for either type of attorney. A person has to question is – are you comfortable with the attorney that is representing you? Do you know what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer?
Does the attorney – return your call, answer your questions, keep you informed of all court dates and appearance, have time to meet with you before court, interview your witnesses, investigate your case, get the video evidence before hearings, have time to review the video evidence, allow you to see the video, send you the discover received from the State, take time to review it with you, is experienced in the type of case that you have, has received specific training etc., this list can go on and on!
It is YOUR case, it is YOUR freedom, reputation in life that is on the line in a Criminal Case – you should be comfortable with your attorney that represents you!!! If you’re not satisfied, get an attorney that meets your needs!!!
I hope this advice helps you.
Can You Get Your Court Case Moved From the Municipal Court to the State Court Without a Lawyer?
Can you get your court case moved from the municipal court to the state court without a lawyer? What is this process called? I was charged with a misdemeanor for shoplifting and my arraignment isn’t till 4 months later. I found that I can enroll in a pre-trial diversion program since I’m a first offender.
I didn’t bother trying to hire a lawyer, since I can enroll myself in the program. But the municipal court I’m going to don’t offer it on the municipal level nor will it offer expungment (I asked the person in charge of the pre-trial diversion program this). So I need my case moved to the state court. I went to the court clerks and they said I either wait till my arraignment and ask the court or hire an attorney to do this. I can’t afford an attorney right now is there a way around this?
Filing a “Demand For Jury Trial” will move the case to State Court. Municipal Courts do not provide a process for a jury trial. You should be very sure that the State Court does offer a pre-trial diversion program for misdemeanor shoplifting and that you will qualify for the program.
Where do I start if and when I’m ready to turn myself in? Also what would be a fee range on a Criminal Lawyer that could help?
Where do I start if and when I’m ready to turn myself in? Also what would be a fee range on a Criminal Lawyer that could help?
“I have warrants for 2 different counties. Both for Violation of Probation one Misdeameanor and one Felony.”
It is a good idea to turn yourself in rather than wait to be arrested on the active warrants. If you turn yourself in you are in control of the timing. If you wait to be arrested it could be at the most inconvenient time possible. I have seen people who were on the way to get married, on their way to a parent’s funeral, or even just before being admitted to the hospital for surgery! I would recommend hiring an experienced Criminal Defense attorney ASAP so you would be represented when you turn yourself in to authorities. Probably the best place to turn yourself in would be the county that has the felony charge. However, your question doesn’t include nearly enough details about your cases to be able to give an accurate assessment of your case. You should discuss the specifics of the charges with your attorney and then follow the advice of your attorney.
As far as the fee range of criminal defense attorneys, it will differ based on numerous factors including their experience, location, success rate etc.. Remember, your freedom is on the line — investing in an experienced criminal defense attorney could be the best investment you have ever made!
I hope this information is helpful to you. Good Luck!
Can I Ask For a Jury Trial Before the City Court Judge and Have My Case Transferred to Superior Court?
Can I ask for a jury trial before the City Court Judge and have my case transferred to Superior Court? Can one have a case transferred from City Court to Superior Court by appearing before the City Court Judge where the citation is for, and stating that he wants a jury trial? I was told it was necessary to file some form to move a case, but a friend said you can just tell the City Court Judge when the case is called and he has to move it.
It is possible to have the case transferred from City Court to a court where a jury trial is available. Some courts have formal procedures for transferring cases, while others are informal and a simple request for a jury trial at arraignment is sufficient. I would suggest contacting the city court clerk and finding out the specific requirements to transfer the case. Additionally, I would suggest contacting an attorney familiar with your type of case and who practices in that particular city court and get his advice on your case.
I Have a Calendar Call and Trial Coming Up for Child Abandonment in Georgia
I have a calendar call and trial coming up for child abandonment in Georgia, if I plea guilty what is the maximum incarceration time I will receive, would it be jail or prison time?
If you have calendar call and are facing a trial you should hire the best Criminal Defense Attorney that is available to you – ASAP!!! If your charge is a Misdemeanor you are facing up to 12 months in jail and up to $1.000 fine. If it is a Felony it carries up to 3 years in prison.
In either case, you need to protect yourself by being represented by an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney. If you are not and you try to represent yourself, you are facing an uphill battle!
Please act to protect yourself. If you are convicted of any crime (Misdemeanor or Felony) in Georgia, the conviction will remain on your criminal history for LIFE!!!
How Can I Find Out If I Had Legal Representation in Some of My Past Criminal Cases?
How can I find out if I had legal representation in some of my past criminal cases?
I have a very bad memory, due to medical issues and I cannot remember if I have legal counsel in my past three shoplifting cases. How would I be able to find that out? With that information be available on my criminal history report?
Your criminal history does not contain information about the attorney involved in your past criminal cases. It only details the criminal arrest, charge and disposition of the case. In order for you to find out if your were represented in the past shoplifting cases yo will need to view or get a copy of the Clerk’s file in the court where you were prosecuted. The clerk’s file will detail any attorney that you retained to represent you or if you were represented by a public defender. I hope this information is helpful to you.
Make Sure You Know What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Lawyer
It’s crucial to your case to know what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer. At George McCranie Law Firm, we can help improve your chances of obtaining the best possible outcome. Contact us today to learn more.