The prospect of facing a DUI charge is intimidating, and it can even be downright scary. You need a DUI lawyer on your side to fight that charge.
The success of your defense could be significantly impacted by who you decide to hire as your lawyer. Settle for someone without the requisite level of skill and experience, and you could soon be on the way to jail. Even if the facts of the case are in your favor, a slam dunk defense could turn into a dicey affair because you hired the wrong lawyer.
So, how can you ensure that you hire the right lawyer? It helps to ask the right questions.
In this article, we have highlighted the questions you must ask the DUI lawyer you are thinking of hiring. Gauge their responses carefully and see if you are comfortable with them representing you.
Determining Who Your Lawyer Will Be
When you get in touch with a law firm and seek their assistance, you will likely talk to different people there. During your conversations, you may start to develop strong impressions of the people at the firm and want a specific lawyer there to represent you in your case.
It is important to determine who your lawyer will be before you decide to partner with a specific firm. Asking the questions below should help you obtain the answer you need.
What Is Your Current Caseload?
If you want to ascertain a lawyer’s availability without directly asking, inquiring about their current caseload is a good way to go about it. Find out if they are currently juggling several cases.
Asking about your preferred lawyer’s current caseload helps you understand if they can take on your case. Doing so will also let you know how high you up are on their current list of priorities. You do not want to end up low on that totem pole and end up with your case potentially getting neglected.
Will You Be the Lawyer Handling My Case?
Perhaps you are not a fan of beating around the bush. In that case, you can be more direct and ask the lawyer you are speaking to directly if they will be the one to represent you.
Putting forth this question can also help you secure a commitment from the lawyer you want on your side. It is worth asking if you are up for it.
Will You Be the One to Show Up to Court with Me?
Also, ask if the lawyer you are speaking to will show up with you in court. You obviously do not want them pulling the bait and switch on you, so secure this commitment from them as well.
Learning More about the Experience Level of Your DUI Lawyer
You should take the time to know more about the legal professional who will potentially be your representative at the trial. Are they capable of playing good defense for you? The questions we have included below should you obtain your answer.
How Long Have You Been a DUI Lawyer?
Experience matters in DUI cases. You do not want to hand the reins to your case over to an inexperienced lawyer. Their inexperience could prove costly.
It is not only inexperience when it comes to handling cases that you should inquire about. Go ahead and ask about how long they have been a DUI lawyer as well.
DUI cases can be nuanced.
You do not want your lawyer missing something important because they have not handled a lot of DUI cases in the past. Even if they have many years of working as a legal professional under their belt, you still need them to have specific experience about your current predicament.
How Many DUI Cases Do You Handle Per Year?
Partnering with a lawyer who has plenty of experience when it comes to working DUI cases would be ideal. However, you need to ask about how recently they acquired that experience.
Being experienced is great, but it may not mean as much if they have not personally handled a case in years.
As much as possible, you should seek out a lawyer who has remained relatively active. Ask about how many cases they handle each year to get a read on that.
How Long Have You Been a Practicing DUI Lawyer in This Area?
Familiarity can give lawyers an edge in the courtroom. If they know how to handle matters in a certain place, they can operate more effectively.
You should ask how long your lawyer has been practicing in your neck of the woods. Gauge how well they know the area because that will undoubtedly matter in your case.
Go ahead and ask as well if they have dealt with the prosecutor in your area before. While you are at it, ask if they have any prior history with the judge for your case.
Their prior history can have insight into how your case may potentially go. Hopefully, what you learn will shine a favorable light on the potential outcome of your case. If you are not seeing that, it is not too late to go in a different direction.
Have You Worked as a Prosecutor Before?
It is not uncommon for some defense lawyers to start out as prosecutors. You should ask the attorney you are talking to if they have that previous working experience.
To be clear, hiring a DUI lawyer who has previous experience working as a prosecutor is a good thing.
First off, prosecutors-turned-defenders have a better grasp of how the other side may tackle your case. They can also predict which areas may serve as weak spots in the prosecution’s case.
Even if you will have a tough time being found not guilty, your defender’s prior experience working as a prosecutor can still come in handy. They can use their experience to strike better plea deals with the other side. They may even know the prosecutor in your case, and that could lead to you landing a more favorable deal.
Is My Case Similar to Anything You’ve Handled Before?
DUI cases are not typically known for including unusual elements, but that is still a possibility.
For example, you may be charged with aggravated DUI, but the conviction is hinging on some complex technicalities. You need to know that your lawyer can understand those complexities.
Ask your lawyer if they have handled something like your current case. You do not want them to react with surprise upon seeing your case file.
Have You Ever Been Disciplined by the State Bar?
There are certain red flags you need to look for before deciding if you should hire a particular lawyer. Something that warrants a closer look is the lawyer’s history as it pertains to the state bar.
Ask the lawyer you are speaking to if they have ever been disciplined by the state bar. While you are at it, ask if they have by other state bars.
Being disciplined does not automatically mean that a lawyer cannot defend you well. That may have just been a lapse in judgment. Since then, they may have demonstrated nothing but responsible behavior towards all their clients and cases.
All that said, you cannot ignore their disciplinary history. Try asking about what happened if they do have a disciplinary record. That should clue you in to whether the legal professional you are speaking to is someone you want as your lawyer.
Ascertaining Your DUI Lawyer’s Credentials
Every lawyer goes through a long and difficult journey to earn a degree as a legal professional. There is no denying the fact that they have earned their status.
However, you should still check to see if a particular lawyer is well suited to handle a DUI case. You can do that by checking on how they have kept up with their education. Asking the questions below should help.
Have You Talked to Police Officers about DUI Cases?
Lawyers can specialize in different areas if they want to.
According to LawyerEdu.org, certification areas in Arizona include bankruptcy law, criminal law, estate, and trust law, family law, personal injury and wrongful death, real estate law, tax law, and workers’ compensation law.
As you can see, DUI is not a specific area of specialization. Still, lawyers can gain supplemental knowledge and experience in that field by talking to other professionals.
Talking to police officers for additional knowledge and experience should prove helpful as a lawyer. Go ahead and ask if that is something they do regularly.
Are You Board Certified by the National College for DUI Defense?
Certain organizations offer certification to lawyers who undergo additional education to build upon their knowledge base. The National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) is the organization in charge of that when it comes to driving under the influence cases.
To receive certification from the NCDD, lawyers must pass written and oral examinations related to the field of DUI.
NCDD members benefit greatly from being certified. The organization gives them access to the latest resources related to driving under the influence cases. They can check out the latest scientific studies on alcohol, drugs, testing devices, testing accuracy, and other relevant matters.
Lawyers are also given additional training so they can wield specific trial techniques better. The organization also helps them find reputable experts who can prove immensely helpful during a trial.
It is easy to see how a DUI lawyer can benefit from being certified by the NCDD. You should ask your lawyer if they are a member of that organization.
Understanding Your DUI Lawyer’s Approach
There is no one way to handle a DUI case. Some lawyers may prefer a particular approach over the other available options.
It is important to understand what approach your lawyer employs. Once you know that, you can figure out if their preferred approach works for you.
How Often Do You Go to Trial?
Going to trial is not necessarily a good or a bad thing.
On one hand, heading to trial could clear your name completely. That gives you a chance to forget about the whole ordeal once the trial is over.
On the other hand, going through a trial can be a stressful ordeal. Some individuals may want to do whatever they can to avoid the courtroom.
You should find out what your lawyer’s attitude is as it pertains to trials. See if their approach aligns with your preferences before hiring them.
How Often Do You Go for Plea Deals or Dismissals?
Like with going to trial, seeking a plea deal or a dismissal in a case is not a good or bad thing either.
There are instances where seeking a plea deal could be the sensible move for your part. You do not want to partner with a lawyer who is opposed to negotiating a plea deal no matter the circumstances. The lawyer you hire should be open to any option if it puts you in the best situation legally.
Additional Questions to Ask Your DUI Lawyer
Let’s wrap things up by highlighting some other essential questions that you should ask any DUI lawyer offering their services to you.
Will I Have to Pay Additional Fees if We Go to Trial?
Some lawyers may advertise a certain fee but then charge something different depending on how your case progresses. To be more specific, they may charge you extra if your case heads to trial. They may also charge you more to bring in experts and to secure some forms of evidence.
Ask your lawyer right away if the payment they are seeking covers everything. You do not want to be caught off guard by additional expenses while the trial is underway.
How Quickly Will You Respond to My Questions?
Being charged with driving under the influence can be stressful. You may feel uneasy as your case slowly develops. During that time, you may have questions for your lawyer.
You should ask your lawyer how quickly they can respond to your questions. Ask them as well if it is okay for you to contact them on weekends.
Set your expectations when it comes to how quickly your lawyer can respond so you can alleviate the stress you are experiencing.
Do you need a DUI lawyer in Arizona? We at the Schill Law Group are here to offer our services. Contact us today, ask us any questions you have, and let us help you through your current ordeal.