If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ve been arrested, and are figuring out what to do next. You’ve probably gone to google (or maybe Bing, but that seems unlikely), and searched for “D.C. criminal defense lawyer,” or “D.C. DUI lawyer,” or “D.C. prostitution lawyer,” etc. Chances are, pages and pages of lawyers have been generated by your search, and you have no idea where to start. Ratings and reviews are nice, but almost never tell the whole story. The lawyers’ websites probably have blogs and articles about the crime you’ve been charged with, but not much about the lawyer. But after some looking around, you may decide to call one, two, or three of the D.C. criminal defense lawyers you find. And now the fun starts.
Many clients who call me have a hundred questions, and want them all answered over the phone. You’ll find that most lawyers, like me, prefer not to do client consultations this way. There are several reasons. First, criminal cases have a lot of facts, and we want to hear all of them, and probably take notes. Trying to listen and take notes over telephone can be difficult, and unclear connections make things even harder. Second, lawyers generally do not run free legal advice hotlines. Many of us offer free consultations, but this offer assumes that the person seeking our advice is serious about hiring legal representation. A person who can’t be bothered to come into my office and sit down with me for half an hour probably isn’t that serious about hiring me. They want free advice, but the reality is that free advice doesn’t pay the office rent.
But the third and most important reason that I don’t do phone consultations is that I don’t want you to hire me before you’ve come into my office, shaken my hand, and decided whether you trust me. Hiring a criminal defense attorney could be one of the most important decisions you make in your life. Whether you face a misdemeanor like DUI or solicitation of prostitution, or a more serious felony, the result achieved in your case will have a lasting impact on your life. That result, whatever it is, will be achieved by you and your lawyer working together to make the important decisions that every criminal cases requires.
When you sit across from me in my office, I’m going to tell you what to expect. I’ll tell you the chances of beating your case, the punishment you are probably looking at if convicted, and all the things I’m going to do on your case if you hire me. But what I tell you doesn’t mean anything if you don’t trust me. You have to trust that your criminal defense lawyer knows what he’s talking about and is going to put his full effort behind your case. You have to trust that when he tells you your chances of winning at trial are good or bad, that estimate is based on knowledge and experience.
So my advice on hiring a criminal defense attorney in Washington, D.C. or northern Virginia, is not to hire the lawyer because they have the fanciest website. Or because they are the cheapest or the most expensive (yes, some people take comfort in being charged top dollar). Hire the lawyer who you think you can trust. Because you will be on a long, bumpy ride together.