In a Southern California city such as Los Angeles, Pasadena, El Monte or Glendale, criminal attorneys are a dime a dozen. But how do you find the best criminal attorney out of the many top criminal lawyers in Los Angeles or any city in California for that matter? Which criminal attorney in Pasadena is highly knowledgeable in DUI/DWI, homicide law, or other misdemeanor and felony laws? A person looking to hire a criminal defense attorney has to ask himself/herself these questions! People are surprised to learn that many of my clients are first time offenders, who because of suspicious circumstances are arrested and charged with a crime. Sound familiar?
Many of my clients are word-of-mouth referrals, referred by friends, family or their lawyer. Being referred is the first step, but how do I, as a first time offender, know if this criminal defense attorney is best for me? My administrative assistant, Edna, is the first person who has contact with a prospective client. Jennie is often asked if the criminal defense attorney has any experience handling criminal court cases exactly like theirs’ and what is my success rate? Often the client will directly ask me those same questions.
Those are great questions that need to be honestly answered. But how do you know if your criminal defense attorney is honestly telling you the truth? “Buyer beware” – there are a lot of criminal lawyers out there who will exaggerate the truth when it comes to their qualifications and experience – my investigator, refers to this puff as the criminal attorney “selling wolf tickets.”
If you’re in Los Angeles county, here are five simple steps to help you choose a top criminal defense attorney who is right for you and your criminal case.
How to find a criminal attorney in Los Angeles
- Know the crime you have been charged with. Ask friends and family for referrals to criminal attorneys. Word of mouth is a very good way to find an attorney that’s right for you. You will feel more confident hiring a criminal defense lawyer who was recommended by someone you trust.
- Go online to expand your list. A good site to find good criminal attorneys is lawyers.com. Simply type in the area of law and location to pinpoint your search. For example, “Pasadena criminal attorney”, or to be even more precise, “DUI attorney Pasadena”.
- Research and shortlist the lawyers you’ve gathered. Find out how long they have been practicing criminal law (general rule of thumb is at least 15 years), how many criminal court cases they have won/lost. In California, you can look up an attorney’s undergraduate and law school schooling and how long they have been admitted to the bar at The State Bar of California website. Most importantly, check whether the lawyer has an AV Peer Review Rating on Martindale Hubbell.
- This rating is a recognition of the attorney’s legal competence and adherence to the highest level of professional ethics as judged by other lawyers and judges. An AV Preeminent Rating is the highest possible rating an attorney can obtain. Less than 1% of all attorneys in California have this rating. It is a testament to their professional ability and ethics.
- With your shortlisted list of attorneys, call and ask the lawyers about the fees. Depending on the attorney, fees can vary greatly from $100/hour to over $750/hour. Get fee schedules up front to know exactly what you will be paying. Never agree to work with an attorneys who charge a percentage of the total settlement they get for you. It is unethical for them to do so.
- Meet with the lawyer in person. But before meeting, make sure you find out whether there is an initial consultation fee. Ask as many questions that pertain to your criminal case as possible. Get an overall sense of how comfortable you feel and whether or not the attorney is competent enough to represent you in the court of law. Does the attorney ask relevant, intelligent questions? Will he/she handle the case or let junior associates do the work?
To hire the best criminal defense attorney in Pasadena, ask to see their track record in writing and then go to the court and check them out.
While all criminal cases are different and no criminal law attorney can honestly guarantee a particular result in any case – I and my defense team can guarantee our best efforts in handling your particular case to the best of our ability – and that’s no wolf ticket!