How To Hire an Attorney
“Alone in shark waters”
How to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer
By: Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer, Jack Carroll
When faced with a misdemeanor or felony criminal charge, you can increase your odds of a favorable outcome by consulting a competent criminal defense lawyer.
A highly skilled criminal lawyer is usually board certified in criminal law. Certification in criminal law means an attorney has substantial relevant experience in this select field of law validated by an intensive vetting and testing process.
There are 70,000 or more lawyers in Texas and less than 2% are board certified in criminal law. Certification allows one to publicly proclaim that he is an expert or specialist in criminal law. They are the only lawyers allowed to do so.
Board certification denotes a practice that is focused on criminal defense, with minimal deviations from that particular practice area.
Beware of a lawyer that practices in two or more areas of law. A jack of all trades is a master of none.
Case results and trial stories
As we were taught in law school, “res ipsa locquitor – the thing speaks for itself.”
Case results tell a lot. If the lawyer doesn’t have much to say about prior case results or only talks of many dismissals, then move on.
Win or lose, a lawyer that will go to trial earns the respect of judges and prosecutors; winning only sweetens the pot. If push comes to shove, an experienced prosecutor can smell blood and will treat the lawyer’s client accordingly.
Harris County Prosecutors have earned the respect of prosecutors the world over. If you don’t believe this, look at their conviction rates. Check the lawyer’s cases.
If the lawyer has been disciplined for professional misconduct, this may indicate a lack of honesty or competence. Go to the State Bar of Texas’ website to look at the lawyers conduct history.
“All hat, no cattle lawyers”
Some lawyers have many magazine endorsements and professional memberships that may look nice on a website, but usually doesn’t tell you much about the lawyer. Some of these eye popping memberships are bought, not earned.
Keep an open mind and read between the lines.
I once saw a magazine cover that proclaimed “a sit down with the top “Houston criminal defense lawyer”. This so called top lawyer had only been licensed for a few years and had little, if any, trial experience.
Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Jack Carroll
Quick cheap fix
Prosecutors and judges have great leeway when deciding how to proceed with a criminal prosecution; most court appointed lawyers don’t. Many appointed lawyers are well-intentioned, good lawyers, but are overworked and may feel compelled to work a case out.
The pay for public appointed lawyers is not very good, and many times the defendant is required to reimburse Harris County for the lawyer’s fee.
Many lawyers charge less than they want to and become scared or resentful when a case gets difficult.
As I’ve said elsewhere, you may not be the same person tomorrow as the one charged today, but the crime charged will never change and may have negative consequences for the rest of your life.
The law, prosecutor, or judge may have zero tolerance for a particular crime.
Texas, particularly Harris County, is well-known for having a sense of frontier justice. If your lawyer lacks experience or otherwise is weak, a plea of not guilty may change to one of begging.
My years of trial experience, as evidenced by solid case results and board certification, levels the playing field for my clients.
I am pro-active and not shy in court.
Hiring a Houston criminal defense lawyer isn’t a personality contest; you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. Reticence on the part of the lawyer may be an indication that he doesn’t have much to talk about. If you feel uncomfortable with the lawyer, talk to someone else. Do your homework and don’t be shy. It’s you that pays the bill one way or another.
BEING CHARGED WITH A CRIME IS A FRIGHTENING EXPERIENCE BUT DON’T HAVE A KNEE JERK REACTION.