There are many reasons why the courts may find you or a loved one unfit to take care of your child. Unfortunately, our experienced child dependency attorneys have spoken to a large number of parents who do not know why a child dependency case has been started against them. It may be because there was suspicion of neglect and abuse or they may believe that your child was put in a dangerous situation. Regardless, child dependency cases (WI 300) can have very undesirable outcomes for the parents involved which may include losing custody of your child forever. To avoid this result, it is smart to hire an experienced child dependency attorney who knows the best ways to defend their clients in child dependency cases. But how do you know which law firm will give you the best results and communicate with you? Wallin & Klarich have created 10 tips that will keep you prepared and confident when you do decide to hire attorneys for your case.
- Look for a law firm with experience
Child dependency is a highly specialized area of law. When you are deciding which child dependency attorney to hire it is important to ask: how many years of experience does the law firm have successfully helping people in my situation? Are they specially trained in handling child dependency matters? Have they handled cases similar to mine and gotten positive results?
It is very important that the law firm you hire is familiar with the type of criminal charges you are facing. If you are considering hiring an attorney but you are not sure how much experience that attorney has, it is appropriate to ask the lawyer how many years of experience the firm has in handling these types of cases and their training in child dependency law.
- Read reviews and testimonials from former clients
While experience is nice, it is important to hear from previous clients as to how the law firm handled their cases. You should review the criminal law firm’s website to find testimonials and case results. Ask the attorney where to go to find this information. In addition, check review sites such as Yelp and Google Plus to see what past clients are saying about the firm.
- Check attorney ratings on Avvo.com and MartindaleHubbell.com
There are two recognized rating systems for lawyers that you should review before deciding which law firm to hire for your legal matter. They are Avvo.com and MartindaleHubbell.com.
An attorney’s Avvo rating is calculated using a mathematical model that considers the information shown in a lawyer’s profile, including the number of years the attorney has been practicing criminal defense, disciplinary history, professional achievements and industry recognition. Each lawyer is ranked from 1.0 to 10.0 (with 10.0 being a superb rating). Very few lawyers achieve a perfect 10.0 rating.
Martindale Hubbell is a trusted source that has been rating lawyers and law firms for many years. There are three possible ratings a law firm can receive from Martindale Hubbell. They are an “AV” rating, a “BV” rating, and a “Rated” designation. An AV rating is the highest a law firm can achieve. To attain this rating, a firm must achieve excellence in defense of their clients consistently over a period of 10 years. The firm must also receive outstanding reviews from other lawyers, judges and past clients.
- Find a firm with experience in the local courts
The law firm you hire should not only have years of experience practicing child dependency, but the firm should also have substantial experience in the court where your case is pending.
Each court has unique procedures and staff, so it is important that your lawyer is familiar with the local court. If your attorney knows the court procedures and how the judges and government attorneys operate at the court where your case is pending, it can give you a major advantage in your case. It is important to find a firm that not only has experience with the local courts, but also with the attorneys for social services and attorneys who are appointed to represent the minors in these cases.
- Know if you’re hiring an attorney or a team of attorneys
When searching for a law firm, you will want to find one that employs multiple experienced criminal defense attorneys. Child dependency matters can be very complicated. You will be much better off if you retain a law firm with multiple lawyers who have been practicing criminal defense for years so that they can work together to plan your defense. A defense lawyer who works alone on your case or only with one partner will not be able to strategize the same way and may not have time to prioritize your case.
Additionally, if you hire a lawyer who is working alone, that lawyer will likely be handling many cases in different courts. This means that if your case is on the calendar in one court, the lawyer may have another case to handle in another court on the same day. This will create a conflict for your attorney. He or she may have to send another lawyer to the court on your case who is unfamiliar with you and the facts of your case. If you hire a law firm rather than a single attorney, you will know that one of the many lawyers in that firm will be on top of your case at all times. The attorneys at your law firm will be able to work as a team and always be familiar with your case.
- A first impression is a sign of things to come
Consider how easy it is to get a hold of a lawyer when you call the office for the first time. Were you able to receive answers to your questions over the phone or were you asked to leave a message? Did the lawyer call you back promptly or did you have to wait a lengthy period of time before you heard from the lawyer?
You will want your attorney to be responsive and respectful to your needs. A good law firm will understand what you are going through and will be there when you call for help. Your initial call to the law firm will be a good indication of the communication you will have with your lawyer during your case.
- Communication is key
Going through the criminal process is going to be stressful. That is why you should hire a law firm that makes it easy for you to communicate with them and ask any questions you have. What hours can you reach the law firm? Does the firm have a lawyer on call in case of an emergency?
When you speak to an attorney on the phone, he or she should give you his or her email address and cellphone number. Your law firm should provide you with the email addresses of the lawyers and legal assistants who will be working on your case.
- Be prepared to give your version of the events
Telling your side of the story is critical to any evaluation of your case. That is why an experienced criminal defense law firm will ask you to do your homework.
You need to explain in detail what happened that lead to your arrest. You will need to also tell the law firm about your “social background” as well as provide a list of character witnesses who can attest to your good character. Finally, you will be asked to provide a list of potential witnesses that could assist your defense. You should not hire a law firm that does not ask you to prepare your homework.
- Don’t expect a guarantee
If you are accused of a crime or calling on behalf of a loved one who is facing criminal charges, you are likely very frightened. Unfortunately, some law firms will attempt to take advantage of your vulnerable state by guaranteeing you a certain result when talking to you.
Not only is an attorney lying to you by guaranteeing you a certain outcome in your case, making such promises is also against California State Bar rules. More importantly, no law firm can guarantee you any result because the actual outcome of your case will depend upon many factors that will unfold as your case progresses through the system. If an attorney guarantees you a result, you should question that attorney’s ethics and look to hire another law firm.
- Compare prices and get it in writing
It is crucial that you understand how fees work within the law firm that you hire. If a law firm is quoting you a very low fee, you will want to investigate the experience of that law firm. On the other hand, just because a law firm is the most expensive does not mean that they are the most qualified to take on your case.
In addition, some lawyers will not explain how fees work and you will wind up paying more than you initially agreed to. Make sure the firm provides a signed, written contract before hiring the law firm. The retainer agreement should clearly spell out the terms of the contractual relationship. Feel free to discuss a fee schedule and payment plans with your attorney before entering into a professional relationship.
Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Wallin & Klarich Today
Here at Wallin & Klarich, our criminal defense team will be there to answer your questions regarding child dependency. Our attorneys are trained to see and view all angles in assessing a situation to ensure that you are getting the best possible chances of attaining a favorable result. If you find yourself in a difficult situation, Wallin & Klarich, a well-established criminal defense firm with over 38 years of experience can provide you with the legal representation you need.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available near you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (714) 587-4279 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will be there when you call.