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How to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney in Today’s Modern Society


This is a good question because a lot of people are actually going to the internet to hire their attorney.  They can do a very broad search.  They can find out about the attorney’s reviews.  They can look at their credentials.  They can look at how long they have been practicing.  They can check the State Bar of California and see whether they’re a member in good standing.  I am a top-rated criminal lawyer in Los Angeles. There’s all sorts of things.  And they can do it very quickly.  So, that’s what is so impressive about the internet.

What I’m seeing — and I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years — and have done all forms of advertising and I pretty much just do criminal defense — I’ve seen things change here over the course of even the last five years, where people are coming into the criminal defense communities as attorneys and being able to compete against the big boys like me because they have advertising dollars.  In other words, someone can graduate from law school and be a neophyte attorney, but their parents can give them a couple of hundred thousand dollars or they could borrow money and they can jump right up to the top of Google or any of the other search engines.

Attorney’s Experience In Local Criminal Courts

The question becomes, how do you as the consumer, figure out which attorney to hire if these guys can just come right on the scene.  Another big thing I see happening is that people will call attorneys and either young attorneys will get on the phone and start answering questions and making predictions or it’s not even an attorney — it’s somebody who is like a case manager or a secretary and they’re trying to sell the case.  They don’t know anything about your case.  They don’t understand the criminal justice system in Los Angeles. They’ve never even been inside a courtroom, and they’re now going to start making predictions on your case.

A lot of people get tricked by this, and I know that because I get cases after people have hired the wrong attorney and now I’ve got to clean up the mess that has been created by making a bunch of false promises.  Another thing they do is bring up stuff that has nothing to do with the person’s case.  They start talking about all of these great results that they’ve had related to cases or issues or fact pattern that doesn’t have to do with the client’s case.  So, I have people calling me saying, oh yeah, this attorney said that; I could do this.  I start asking them questions about their case and their case has nothing to do with what that attorney said.  I point that out to them and again, a lot of the stuff is common sense, and they’re like, yeah, you’re right.  Why is he telling me all that and I say well, because they’re trying to sell you.

Attorney’s Honesty with Clients

Another thing they do is light a fire under you that you’ve got to get moving now, etc.  Listen.  You do need to hire the right attorney as soon as possible to start making some moves for you, but don’t be bullied or pushed into anything.  I don’t want a case if I’m taking the case under false premises like some of these other attorneys do.  I’m honest with the clients.  I let them know what I know about their situation, what I think will likely happen based on the facts they gave me, and then I’ll tell them, this could happen, that could happen.  There’s a number of different outcomes.  This is not like an algebraic formula where you just plug in a couple of facts and the attorney can just say, here’s what’s going to happen.  Rarely is criminal defense like that.

There’s all sorts of twists and turns depending on just a host of about twenty different factors as to whether or not somebody is going to get a certain result in a particular criminal case in Los Angeles.  So, you really need to go meet with that attorney face-to-face.  You want somebody who knows the courthouse.  They don’t have to have their office right on top of the courthouse, but they need to know the players in the courthouse because that’s who they’re going to be dealing with, negotiating with, arguing against, the judges, the court personnel.  This is crucial when you’re talking about a criminal case in Los Angeles or anywhere.

Of course, the person has to have experience.  You’re not getting some attorney who is fresh out of law school to handle a serious criminal case.  You don’t want to be the person they cut their teeth on.  That could be a real problem for you.

Attorney’s Credentials

I wrote a book called The Art of the Perfect Defense, and it really is geared toward helping you try and figure out how to choose your attorney in a sometimes difficult market.  There’s some great attorneys in Los Angeles.  In fact, I think some of the best attorneys in the world are in Los Angeles because it’s a huge metropolis with all sorts of criminal activity going on, so there’s a lot of attorneys here who know what they’re doing.

But, there’s also attorneys who are doing some things that are not appropriate.  Like, you’ll see some of these attorneys using their credentials because they’ve been doing it a long time, and they themselves never go to court.  All they are is a figure head.  I don’t think that’s fair because why are you using your credentials when you’re not the one going to court.  Let’s see the credentials of the person that you’re going to have represent me.  They won’t put that person’s credentials up because it’s usually some new attorney.  So, don’t fall for that trick.  That’s not gonna work.  You ask them, does this guy actually go to court?  Is he part of a firm?  Is he making decisions?  Is he doing motions?  Is he doing trials when it’s necessary?  Is he directing the case?

Attorney Who Takes Charge of Your Case

You know, sometimes a lawyer can’t be everywhere at once, especially in Los Angeles county, which is a huge county with a lot of different courthouses, and that’s okay, as long as whoever the attorney is you’re hiring is in charge of your case — is running your case, making the decisions, making the moves and you have the ability to talk to them about your case so that you can make sure that you’re getting a fair shake.  So, there’s a lot of different things going on in LA county, but I think if you use your common sense in choosing your attorney — don’t believe false promises; don’t fall for the bait and switch where it’s not even the attorney that’s part of your case; don’t let some young neophyte who doesn’t know what they’re doing represent you.  As soon as you start hearing promises, where you scratch your head and ask, does that make sense?  And it sounds like they’re saying stuff that just isn’t feasible based on your circumstances.

Don’t be tricked just because you’re desperate and hire an attorney who sounds the best and who is telling you some rosy picture when you know it’s not a rosy picture and you’re going to need somebody to fight for you to get you the best possible result for your criminal case in Los Angeles.

Hedding Law Firm
633 West Fifth Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071
213-374-3952
www.la-criminaldefense.com

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About the Author

Named Top Los Angeles Criminal Attorney by LA Times and named one of the Top 100 criminal defense attorneys in California by the National Trial Lawyers Association. I'm the attorney other lawyers hire to defend them.

"The Art of The Perfect Defense" Your Essential Guide to Criminal Defense in Los Angeles"

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