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Changing somebody’s life for the better, through the practice of law, was a notion that captivated Mr. Sterling early in his career. It was about being a voice for those who did not have one. Mr. Sterling still believes in this idea. For him, it’s about being a positive force in his client’s life and helping them through a very difficult time.
Choosing a criminal defense attorney is a very personal decision. In looking for the right lawyer you may have come across many websites and advertisements for lawyers wanting to help you. You may be wondering what distinguishes one from the next.
You may be wondering whether to go with the Public Defender’s Office or to hire a private attorney. Maybe you’re even considering having that distant relative or “friend of a friend” handle your case.
We hope you find the following helpful in making your decision.
Paying a private defense attorney is no guarantee of quality representation. Any warm body with a law degree can hang out a shingle and call themselves a criminal defense attorney. In fact, many of those who cannot get a job elsewhere do just that. Your private attorney could turn out to be a bottom feeder with poor academic credentials or little to no criminal defense experience.
You should also be wary of excessive or unreasonable fees when it comes to a private attorney. Many will charge exorbitant fees for work that can be done at a fraction of the cost. It is also essential that the lawyer you meet with and ultimately hire is the actual attorney who will be handling your case and representing you in court. Often, larger law offices will merely hand off your case to an associate attorney with little legal experience. In some instances a case manager, who is not even a lawyer, will be assigned to work on your case.
Furthermore, hiring a lawyer who has been practicing for 35 years does not mean that they are up to date on the law or have a current understanding of your legal needs. While some of these attorneys remain outstanding advocates, many delegate their cases to inexperienced litigators. It is imperative that you hire an attorney that is in touch with today’s legal climate.
For example, during the life of a criminal case it may be heard by different judges sometimes in multiple courtrooms before it’s ultimately resolved. The lawyer you hire must be able to make strategic decisions as to where and when your chances of success are at their highest. Litigating certain motions before one judge may have an entirely different outcome than if litigated in front of another. A jury pool in East Los Angeles is entirely different than a jury pool in Van Nuys. These are the distinctions and nuances the lawyer you hire must understand in order to effectively represent you.
It is also important to hire a lawyer whose experience is in criminal defense exclusively. You will notice many attorneys advertise themselves as “former prosecutors.” This is a marketing ploy (an unethical one) and will not translate into your lawyer being a better advocate. The pitch is intended to capitalize on a basic misconception by the public that the skills one develops as a prosecutor translates into the skills one requires in order to be a good criminal defense lawyer. Beware of this type of advertising. It is not only misleading but it is preying on the ignorance of the general public. Defense work is a specialization and hiring an attorney who has dedicated themselves to defending individual rights is critical.
As far as going with the Public Defender’s Office…..there are certainly institutional advantages with doing so. They are experts in criminal law and they deal with the same prosecutors and judges on a daily basis. Some of the most compassionate and effective lawyers are public defenders. However, there remains a great risk that your particular public defender will be what is not so affectionately known as a “dump truck.” It is these lawyers that give public defenders a bad name.
They may be overwhelmed by high caseloads or simply burnt out from too many years in the trenches. Whatever the reason, these lawyers do little more than help prosecutors obtain guilty pleas. What’s worse is that it’s almost impossible to fire your public defender and get a new one.
The outcome of your case depends on the quality and experience of the individual lawyer fighting for you.
We are proud of our impressive success rate. We strive to bring integrity to our field while achieving excellence for our clients. By offering creative and aggressive representation, our goal is clear ~ to effectively solve our client’s problems inside and outside of the courtroom. We don’t rely on gimmicks or dishonest advertising. We are a different kind of practice and I invite you to consider how we might be able to help.