You get home from a long night in jail and are bombarded with hundreds of flyers from criminal defense lawyers. Your bonding company suggested someone for you to call (which is against the law for them to do). Your friend tells you he has a great, cheap lawyer. What do you do?
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Read on for tips on how to choose a criminal defense attorney in Houston (or anywhere else you might need one!).
Tip #1: Don’t Go for the Lowest Price
Why are different lawyers so many different prices? Don’t they all do the same thing?
No! The less expensive lawyers charge less because they work in high volume. That means you will likely speak to your lawyer’s assistant, not directly to your lawyer. On court dates, you will wait all morning for them to get there, only to have the case reset. Why do they reset it? They are charging you by the reset, so it’s more money for them.
Tip #2: Look at Their Experience
Being charged with any criminal case is serious. You could lose your drivers license, job, financial aid and your freedom.
Before you choose on a criminal defense attorney in Houston, you need to find out how much experience they have. Who trained them? If they began as a prosecutor, they likely know the system better.
Tip #3: Have They Tried a Lot of Cases in Front of Juries?
Another question to ask any potential lawyer is how many cases have they tried in front of juries and what is their success rate?
Why is it important that they try cases to juries? All the prosecutors know which defense attorneys are trial lawyers who don’t hesitate to try a case if the prosecutor doesn’t give you what you deserve. Prosecutors also know which defense attorneys don’t ever try cases, so they have no incentive to dismiss your case.
You can ask the lawyer all these questions and make sure they tell you the honest truth. And if they sound too good to be true, they probably are.
Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Defense Attorneys
At first your lawyer will need to get to know you and your case extremely well. This means you should be prepared to answer a lot of questions. You may also be asked to fill out a questionnaire. Some of this may seem redundant, but it is an essential part of the process.
You should also be prepared to bring important documents with you. Things like court documents, arrest papers, and bail paperwork are a must. If you have evidence like pictures of the crime scene, or contact info for witnesses, that can be very helpful as well.
Last, you should come armed with questions of your own for your lawyer. Ask them about their experience with cases like yours, their success rate, and how long they expect a trial like yours to last.
Despite what a public official might tell you, it is not only legal to videotape your traffic stops in Texas, it is very smart. Video evidence can be very effective at proving your innocence to a judge or jury.
Even though it is legal to videotape a police interaction, you are still required to be respectful and cooperate with a police investigation. But if someone ask you to stop recording, show them photos or video, or tries to erase something on your phone, you can tell them that you are exercising your right under Texas law and the US Constitution.
Unlike your credit report, which only goes back 7 to 10 years, your arrest record can stay with you your whole life. This can affect you getting into college, finding a job, or getting a mortgage. Even renting an apartment requires a background check a lot of the time. There are two ways to clear your record, but they can be difficult, especially without the help of an experienced defense attorney. They are Expungement and Orders of Non-Disclosure.
Having an arrest expunged is a civil action where someone can petition to have their records completely sealed. If you are able to obtain an expungement you can legally say that the arrest never happened.
Orders of Non-Disclosure do you not completely clear your record, but they can keep anyone other than government officials from finding out about the arrest.
If You Need Help Today, Call Criminal Defense Attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss
Lisa Shapiro Strauss Attorney at Law is a Houston criminal defense attorney with the experience and dedication necessary to protect your rights. As a former prosecutor, Lisa Shapiro Strauss knows the criminal justice system and how to achieve the best possible outcome for her clients. Lisa has been successfully representing the legal rights of individuals facing assault, theft and other criminal charges for more than 20 years. She takes pride in devoting significant time, personnel and resources to each case to ensure that every client receives the highest standard of service.
If you’ve been arrested in Harris County, call the law office of Houston criminal defense attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss at 713-429-7310 for experienced legal advice.