Five Questions to Ask When Choosing a DUI Lawyer
If you were arrested for DUI, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you in court. Harsh penalties, including jail time and hefty fines, often accompany DUI convictions. Your attorney will understand how to navigate the complex court system and know whether to take your case to trial or focus on plea negotiations.
Although many attorneys handle DUI cases, some are more successful than others. When deciding which attorney to retain for your DUI case, consider asking the following five questions:
#1: How Much Experience Do You Have Litigating DUI Cases?
When choosing a lawyer, you want one who focuses on DUI defense. Whether a solo practitioner or an attorney at a large firm, you want someone with experience litigating DUI cases in your area. Try to avoid hiring an attorney whose practice is broad and generalized, as that person may not know the complex details of DUI cases in your jurisdiction. Lawyers who focus on DUI defense will likely know what to expect given your specific circumstances, they may know the prosecutor and judge in your case, and they may even predict what plea agreements you’re going to receive.
#2: Will You Handle My Case?
Make sure that the attorney whom you first meet with to discuss your case will actually serve as the attorney who handles your case. If not, request to meet with the person who will handle your case to assess qualifications and initial thoughts regarding your specific circumstances. Be wary of law firms who throw around the term “team” when it comes to their practices. This often doesn’t mean a team of experienced lawyers so much as it means a team of paralegals and assistants.
#3: What Are the Costs?
The best lawyer isn’t necessarily the most expensive lawyer, but the best lawyers will always honestly discuss their costs. Any lawyer should outline what your case might cost given a variety of potential scenarios, including whether your case goes to trial, so you can plan accordingly. Alternatively, be wary of lawyers who provide you with comparatively low quotes. While a low price doesn’t necessarily mean a bad lawyer, an unrealistically low quote could later turn into a much greater charge than you expected once your case concludes.
#4: What Are the Challenges in My Case?
While some DUI cases can prove particularly complex, an experienced attorney should give you a fair assessment of your chances at trial and expected plea offers after a quick review of all the details. If your attorney determines that the police did not violate any of your rights during your arrest, you have one less potential defensive strategy. If the police pulled you over with an open bottle in your hand, you likely face an uphill battle at trial. An experienced DUI defense attorney will identify and articulate the issues in your case and any potential strategies.
#5: Can My Case Plead out or Take It to Trial?
When choosing an attorney, retain someone who is willing to take your case to trial, if necessary. While many defendants prefer to accept plea agreements, which your attorney will negotiate outside of court, you may want to take your case to trial, particularly if you are innocent. You want an attorney who has experience arguing cases before a jury, and who is willing to go to trial if you want. Don’t retain an attorney who may pressure you to accept an unfavorable plea agreement.
Need DUI Help?
If you were arrested and charged with DUI in the West Chester, Pennsylvania, area, contact the Skinner Law Firm today. Call us at (610) 436-1410, or contact us online, to speak with one of our experienced DUI defense attorneys and learn how we can help.