Whether you are facing charges for a crime, driving under the influence (DUI), another traffic violation or a juvenile offense, you need experienced legal representation. Along with fines and jail time, a conviction (or adjudication of delinquency) could have many other consequences as well. Unfortunately, many people make mistakes when choosing a New Jersey defense attorney, and they end up facing unnecessary consequences as a result. To make sure you don’t choose the wrong defense attorney, here are 10 costly mistakes you will want to avoid.
10 Costly Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Defense Attorney
Mistake #1: Going with the First Defense Attorney You Find
When facing charges, many people understandably feel worried, and as a result, they decide to go with the first defense attorney they find. But, simply being able to find an attorney quickly should not be the driving force behind your decision. The fact that an attorney spends a lot of money on billboards or online advertisements does not necessarily mean that he or she is the best attorney to handle your case.
Mistake #2: Not Doing Your Research
To make an informed decision, you need to do your research. Once you find a defense attorney in your geographic area, read his or her biography on the law firm’s website and see if you can find any reviews (positive or negative) online. It is important that the attorney you choose is a good fit; and, if you call an attorney who doesn’t handle your type of case or who lacks the experience you need to feel confident in his or her abilities, you will be wasting your time.
Mistake #3: Not Asking for Referrals
One of the best ways to choose a defense attorney is to ask for referrals. If any of your friends, family members or coworkers have faced criminal or juvenile charges in the past, ask who they hired to represent them. How was their experience? Will they call the attorney again if they need legal representation in the future? The answers to these types of questions can provide invaluable insights you can use to make an informed decision.
Mistake #4: Choosing an Inexperienced Defense Attorney
Regardless of the specific charges you are facing, the outcome of your case will impact your life for years, if not decades, to come. With this in mind, is it worth entrusting your case to an inexperienced defense attorney? Most likely not.
Relevant experience is a key factor when choosing a defense attorney. While there are many newly-minted attorneys who are fresh out of law school, there are also many defense attorneys who have practiced criminal and juvenile law in New Jersey for decades. With your future on the line, you will want to put experience on your side.
Mistake #5: Choosing a Defense Attorney Who Isn’t Committed to Your Case
Another factor to consider is the amount of time an attorney has to devote to your case. If a New Jersey defense attorney is too busy, he or she may not be able to provide the level of representation your case demands. With all that you have at stake, you need to choose an attorney who is just as committed to achieving a favorable result as you are.
Mistake #6: Failing to Prepare for Your Initial Consultation
Once you find a New Jersey defense attorney who you think might be a good choice, the next step is to schedule an initial consultation. When you go to your initial consultation, you will want to make sure you are thoroughly prepared.
If you aren’t prepared, the attorney won’t be able to provide a thorough assessment of your case, and this could negatively (and unfairly) skew your perception of the attorney’s capabilities. By being ready with a chronology of events, list of relevant facts and a list of questions, you can get the most out of your initial consultation—and you can get a much more accurate picture of the attorney’s ability to represent you effectively.
Mistake #7: Failing to Ask Questions During Your Initial Consultation
During your initial consultation, you should ask any questions you want to ask about the attorney’s experience, practice focus and availability. Typically an initial consultation should serve two main goals: (i) to get an initial assessment of your case, and (ii) to help you decide if the attorney is the right choice for you. It is extremely important that you feel comfortable speaking with your attorney about your case one-on-one, and if you don’t feel comfortable, you may want to consider other options.
Mistake #8: Focusing Too Much on Cost
Understandably, many people have questions about the legal fees defense attorneys charge. While this is certainly a relevant factor, it is important not to focus too much on a lawyer’s flat fee or hourly rate. First of all, like most things, you generally get what you pay for when it comes to legal representation. Second, regardless of how much you pay, if your defense is successful, the costs you avoid will likely far outweigh the costs of your legal representation.
Mistake #9: Not Scheduling Another Initial Consultation if Necessary
If you are not confident in an attorney’s ability to represent you after sitting down for an initial consultation, you should schedule another initial consultation with another New Jersey defense attorney. At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., we offer free initial consultations precisely because we want those who come to us to make informed decisions without worrying about incurring upfront costs.
Mistake #10: Ignoring the Risks of Choosing the Wrong Defense Attorney
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you cannot ignore the risks of choosing the wrong defense attorney. If your defense isn’t successful, you could face substantial and long-term consequences as a result. Instead, by choosing the right defense attorney, you can avoid unnecessary consequences and you can ensure that you will be able to move on from your case as quickly as possible.
Speak with a New Jersey Defense Attorney at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.
If you need a New Jersey defense attorney, we encourage you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. Call 877-435-6371 or contact us online for an appointment today.
Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive experience in defending criminal and juvenile cases as they were former assistant prosecutors and/or police officers for a combined total of over 600 years of law enforcement experience. You can find out more about them on our site, and you can call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell phone at 609 685-0665.