Hiring An Attorney
Hiring a Lawyer in a Criminal Matter
It is possible to hire an attorney on the phone or over the Internet, however at Ball & Hase, we highly recommend you make an appointment to visit with a lawyer in person in this serious matter. You need to determine if you have confidence in that lawyer to "go to bat" for you; to stand in front of a judge, jury or prosecutor for you and act in your best interests. You are in fact interviewing the person you are entrusting with your freedom, your record etc. You are not ordering a pizza.
Sometimes, it is not possible for a prospective client to go to the attorney's office, such as when you live out of town. Our lawyers will conduct telephone consultations in these circumstances. However, we recommend in-person consultations whenever possible. When you are hiring a criminal defense lawyer, there are some key things you should look for:
Is the attorney a Board-Certified Criminal Law Specialist? Not all attorneys are Board Certified and under Texas rules, “any” licensed attorney can practice criminal law regardless of their experience and other qualifications. You may not want just “any” attorney. State Bar statistics show that in 2007, only about 1% of attorneys in Texas are Board Certified Criminal Law Specialists. 99% of attorneys in Texas cannot claim to be Board Certified Criminal Law Specialists.
In the law firm advertising, does it identify an attorney that is actually in the local office, or do you have to scroll down to fine print to see the names of attorneys that are in fact in another city and are not attorneys that will actually ever see or handle your case? At Ball & Hase, the two attorneys that form the name of the firm are the attorneys you will actually see.
Ask the attorney how long they have been at that firm and how long they have been in the active practice of criminal law. At Ball & Hase, the attorneys have been with the firm since its inception in 1987. There is no rotation or turnover where the attorneys do not stay long enough to be even mentioned in the firm’s marketing materials.
Is the attorney a former prosecutor and thus familiar with what the prosecutor is thinking, and what to expect from the other side?
Does the lawyer practice exclusively Criminal Law or does he handle other types of matters, such as divorces, personal injury, wills etc. as well?
Has the lawyer been active in the local Criminal Defense Lawyers Association? At Ball & Hase, both Board Certified Criminal Law Specialists are past presidents of the local Criminal Bar Association.
Is the lawyer respected by persons at the courthouse, Judges and other criminal attorneys on both sides? What is the lawyer's reputation? Based on our reputation, Ball & Hase is frequently asked to represent police officers, law enforcement officials and their family and friends who have been accused of violating the law. We also have received referrals from members of the judiciary.
Who is the person you are actually meeting with? Are you interviewing with a paralegal or another staff person? Meet with the attorney that will actually be handling your case and interview him or her. If the firm advertises as a Board Certified Specialist, ask if the Board Certified attorney will handle your case at all stages, or is it going to be passed off to a junior associate? Ask if the Board Certified Attorney is actually located in the jurisdiction of your case or is simply named in advertising and is located in a remote city.
Will the lawyer discuss all of your options with you or is the lawyer's intent simply to get you to plead guilty?
Does the lawyer have substantial trial experience? Has the lawyer tried many cases to a jury when negotiations break down? Successfully negotiating a favorable outcome can depend on the prosecutor’s estimation of the established trial skills of the defense attorney. What is the lawyer's strategy in handling your case? Is there a strategy?
Will the lawyer explain your case and the possible ramifications in detail?
The lawyer accurately explaining your rights to you?
Does the lawyer fully understand the effects of a criminal matter on your record?
Does the lawyer explain what he will be doing for his fee and how the fee was determined?
Does the lawyer make promises as to the outcome of a case they have not investigated and have no basis for, except to tell you what you want to hear to get hired? Be leery of promises of dismissal before investigating the case including advertising that suggests a particular outcome. The criminal justice system is an adversary system: it is the Government vs. the Defendant. No lawyer can honestly know the outcome of a case without thorough investigation. Avoid the “bait and switch” where having hired the attorney and being left with the belief of a favorable outcome, the “switch” comes with the bad news that the outcome cannot be achieved.
Advertising its legal services, does the law firm expose clients by name, case number or even photograph to the public to secure business? At Ball & Hase, the privacy of clients and respect for the attorney-client privilege are guiding principles over advertising. Our task is to eliminate or minimize exposure of accusations against our clients and where possible, expunge all record of what has been a bad experience. Rest assured, at Ball & Hase, you will never have your name or face posted in marketing materials.
Free consultation: If you have been charged with a crime in Texas, contact a board-certified criminal law attorney at Ball & Hase in Arlington. We will be happy to answer the questions set out above. In an emergency, call 817.860.5000. We answer calls 24 hours a day.