Finding the Right DUI Lawyer Can Be Tricky
If you are charged with a DUI you know it is serious, you know you need an attorney, but picking the right attorney for your case can be daunting. Finding and affordable attorney that won’t let you down in court can be challenging. Here are some tips to picking the right attorney and getting more out of the lawyer you choose.
Read the Contract Carefully
All attorneys should have a retention contract for you to sign before they officially become your attorney. Read this contract carefully before you sign it. In that contract it should spell out:
- When your attorney can cancel the contract and quit your case?\
- When can you cancel the contract?
- What your attorney will and will NOT do.
- Will the attorney charge you more money to appeal the case if you lose.
- What services cost extra (appeals, continuances, client meetings, motions, professional witnesses, post conviction consultation).
- How much of your money you will get back if you fire your. attorney
If you are convicted of DUI or reckless driving there are many bureaucratic hoops you will have to jump through. These included:
- applying for a restrict license,
- signing up for ASAP,
- arranging payment plans for fines and court cost,
- getting ignition interlock installed,
- preventing probation violations or lose of your restricted license.
Make sure your contract does not end at conviction. If your contract ends at conviction then your attorney will not have to answer any of your questions or aid you at all after conviction.
Having an attorney help you after conviction is important for preventing probation violations or losing your restricted license. Many people have gone to jail in Prince William County because their attorney did not help them after their DUI was over.
Use the Free Consultation Effectively.
Most DUI lawyers offer free consultations. Use that time effectively. Come prepared to your first meeting with a list of questions you want to ask. Of course you are going to want to ask questions about your case, but don’t forget to ask questions about the lawyer and law firm you are meeting with.
Some questions to ask during your free consultation may include:
- What percentage of your practice is defending DUI/DWI charges?
- What percentage of your practice is in Prince William County?
- Who will be representing me at court?
- Ask about similar cases that they have handled in the past?
- What defenses do you think will be important in my case?
- What is the likely outcome of my case?
- What should I be doing to prepare for my trial?
Check Out Their Online Reviews.
Avvo.com is a third party website that reviews and features local attorneys. Clients can leave reviews about their attorney and Avvo will flag attorneys how have been publicly disciplined by the bar. While, Avvo is certainly not a perfect system, it can give you a rough peek at a DUI attorney’s reputation.
You can see Luke J. Nichols online reviews and profile at Avvo.com
Is Your Attorney Too Busy?/ Do they spend enough time talking to you?
Most legal mistakes made by lawyers happen because the lawyer is too busy. When lawyers become too busy they often do not spend enough time communicating with their clients.
Communicating with clients is essential. Clients need to know what is going on, what to expect, and what is factors will affect the outcome of their case. Attorneys need to know their clients future plans, their background and as many details about the case as possible. There is no substitute for spending time talking to your lawyer about your DUI case.
If your initial consultation is rushed, if the attorney doesn’t want to answer your questions, if the lawyer sets limits on how often or how long they will talk to you, these may be signs that effective communication will be difficult.
Find a Lawyer that Cares and Respects You
The typical defendant in a DUI case is a typical citizen. Rich, poor, blue collar white collar, men and women. Most have good driving records and they have never been in trouble before.
DUI defendants are typically smart, intelligent people who find themselves in an embarrassing and very stressful situation. What they need from their attorney is someone who will listen, answer questions, fight hard, and show them some compassion and respect during this tough time.
If you are not confident that your attorney is 100% committed to defending you, that is not a good situation. When you meet with a DUI lawyer, ask your self: Does this person care about what happens to me? Do they talk to me like I am stupid or do they discuss and explain thing in a way that is not condescending? Will this attorney help me achieve my goals or will they just tell me what to do?
Make sure you find a lawyer that has the beside manor and people skills that you want from your DUI attorney.
Court Appointed Attorneys for Your DUI
Prince William County does not have a public defenders office. If you are charged with DUI and cannot afford an attorney you will be give a court appointed attorney.
You cannot receive a court appointed attorney unless you are indigent. This means that you are extremely poor. A single person must have an annual income of less than approximately $18,000 with little of no assets to qualify. You will be required to swear under oath and fill out a financial statement before the judge will appoint a court appointed attorney.
Court appointed attorneys are not free if you are found guilty. You will be required to reimburse the government the cost of the court appointed attorney if you are found guilty. This will be part of your court costs.