When you or someone you love is facing sex crime charges, probably the most important decision you will make is which law firm to hire to help you. These 16 tips can help you make an informed decision so that you have the best sex crime law firm fighting for your freedom.
- How many years of experience does the sex crime law firm have in helping people accused of the type of crime you are accused of? It is very important that the sex crime law firm be familiar with the type of criminal charges that you are facing. Asking the law firm how many cases of your type they have handled is totally appropriate, and advisable.
- How much experience does the sex crime law firm have in the exact court where your case is pending?
Not only should your sex crime law firm be well versed in the law governing the type of charges you are facing, they should be equally familiar with the venue where your case is pending. Knowing the court procedures and how the judges and prosecutors operate can give you a major advantage in your case.
- How many sex crime lawyers work together at this law firm?
You will want to retain a law firm that has multiple experienced sex crime attorneys who can work together on your case. Remember the famous quote “two heads are better than one”. Sex crime matters can be very complicated. You are much better off retaining a highly skilled sex crime team with multiple lawyers that can work together on your case as opposed to a sex crime lawyer that works alone or with just one other partner. Who will be supervising your case if your lawyer is in trial or otherwise engaged with another lengthy case? If you hire a sex crime law firm you will know that one of the many criminal lawyers in that firm will be on top of your case at all times.
- How easy was it for you to speak to a lawyer at the law firm when you first called to discuss your case?
Did you have to leave messages or were you able to receive answers to your questions when you first contacted the law firm? A very good indication of the “communication” between you and your lawyer will be how easy or difficult it was to speak to the lawyer or their legal assistant when you first contacted their offices.
- Does the law firm utilize the ability to communicate with you via email?
In this day and age the most effective way to reach a lawyer is via email. An efficient sex crime law firm will provide you with the email address of the lawyers who will be working on your case. You should be able to contact the law firm after hours and on weekends when an emergency arises.
- Does the sex crime law firm want to know about your version of events, your background and the witnesses you have to support your position?
This is a critical part of any evaluation of who you should retain to assist you in your case. If the law firm you are considering hiring does not require you to complete a statement of case, social history and provide them with your witnesses, then you should not hire that law firm. A sex crime law firm must know your case facts extremely well and also must know your background in detail so they can properly present your case to the court and the prosecution. If the law firm doesn’t require that you be actively involved in your own defense by providing this information then do not hire that law firm.
- What is the law firm’s “rating” with Martindale Hubbell?
There is only one recognized rating system for lawyers and that organization is Martindale Hubbell. Martindale Hubbell rates lawyers and law firms all over the United States and has done so for many years. There are four possible ratings a law firm can receive. They range from an “AV rating”, a “BV” rating, a “CV” rating, or NO RATING. An “AV rating” is the highest rating any law firm can achieve in the United States. To attain this rating, a law firm must consistently do an excellent job in the defense of their clients for at least ten years. They must also have received outstanding reviews from other lawyers, judges, past clients and the general community. Since you only will be able to retain one sex crime law firm, it is critical that you ask what that law firm’s rating is through Martindale Hubbell. If the rating is anything less than an “AV rating” then you should look elsewhere for an attorney. You and your family deserve the very best!
- Can the law firm provide you with “testimonials” from prior clients who were happy with the legal services they received from the law firm?
Nothing can be more important than being able to read letters from former clients of the law firm who were facing similar criminal charges and selected the law firm to help them. Make certain that you are able to go to the law firm’s website to read about how other clients felt about the legal services that the law firm provided them. This will be a good indication of the quality of legal services they will provide you in your case.
- You should never have a law firm represent you that makes guarantees as to what will be the outcome in your criminal matter.
It is important to understand that when people are making a decision on which sex crime law firm to hire they are often very frightened. They are likely facing the real possibility of going to jail. This could result in the loss of their employment, as well as, many other serious consequences. Unfortunately some law firms will attempt to take advantage of this vulnerability by “guaranteeing you a result” over the telephone. Please understand that if any sex crime lawyer tells you that they can “guarantee you” no jail time or a dismissal of your case they are lying to you and you should never hire that law firm. It is against State Bar Rules to guarantee a particular result in any case. 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. The bottom line is do not be fooled by false promises.
- How much will the sex crime law firm charge me for their legal services?
The retainer agreement should clearly spell out the terms of the contractual relationship. This document needs to be signed by both you and your lawyer. Do not hire a sex crime lawyer who does not give you a copy of a signed retainer agreement.
Many lawyers will charge extremely high fees while others may charge very low fees. If a law firm is quoting 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 defend your case.
- Does your attorney know and understand psychological evaluations that one can conduct on a defendant to show that he/she does not fit the sexual profile of someone that would commit this kind of an offense? Superior Court v. Stohl
In many cases a testimony of a psychological evaluator can be the difference in winning or losing a case. There are certain experts that can be hired and tests that can be conducted in order to show that the defendant does not fit the profile of a sexual offender. This can very possibly be a key element to winning your case and as such you need an attorney that is familiar with these very specific aspects of a sex crime case.
- Does your attorney understand and know how to attack any evidence the district Attorney will try to introduce to show evidence of abuse?
Many issues may come up during an investigation or trial regarding evidence against you. An experienced attorney will know the law on what evidence may and may not be used against you. Your attorney needs to have the knowledge to object to evidence that is wrongfully presented against you by the district attorney.
- Is your attorney knowledgeable about Child Abuse Accommodation Syndrome evidence in case the District Attorney plans on introducing such testimony?
- Is your attorney willing to investigate the alleged victims background in an attempt to attack there credibility by establishing a motive to lie or has the reputation for lying, cheating or stealing- things that go directly toward there credibility as a witness?
It is absolutely necessary that your attorney be willing to investigate the alleged victims in your case. If it is found that the alleged victim(s) have a tendency of or motive to lie about aspects of your case, attacking the credibility of the alleged victims can be an extremely useful tool in your defense.
- Does your attorney know experts in all relevant areas to assist your case at a trial- such as psychologists to discuss mental state as well as medical doctors to refute the prosecutions experts who may testify that the physical evidence is consistent with abuse?
Other than calling percipient or character witness to the stand, an attorney may call an expert witness to testify on certain topics such as psychological disorders, validity of physical evidence of abuse, etc. Expert witnesses may be able to help your case significantly as they may testify as to scientific inconsistencies in testimonies of other opposing witnesses.
- Does your attorney know and understand jury selection and know what kinds of jurors would be more understanding of the dynamics of your particular case?
If your case goes to trial, it’s essential to have an attorney that has trail experience and is familiar with the jury selection processes. There are many very specific traits that the right jurors need to posses and your attorney should be experienced enough to be able to recognize and select the appropriate jurors for your case.
The final decision as to whom you should hire to help you or your loved one is who you believe has:
- The experience to handle your type of case
- The experience to handle your case in the exact courthouse where your case is pending
- Many sex crime attorneys working together as a team on your case
- A law firm that was there to answer your phone call when you first called for help
- A law firm that allows you to communicate with them via email on a regular basis
- A law firm that wants you to tell them about your defenses and your personal history so they can be ready to defend you
- An “AV RATING” by Martindale Hubbell
- A law firm that provides you with “testimonials” from prior clients who were very happy with the services they received
- A law firm that will be honest with you and tell you the truth about your case so there are no surprises
- A law firm that will charge you a reasonable fee considering all of the facts of your case
- A law firm that understands psychological evaluations
- A law firm that understands how to attack possible evidence of abuse
- A law firm that is knowledgeable about Child Abuse Accommodation Syndrome
- A law firm that is willing to investigate alleged victims
- A law firm that is familiar with experts in all relevant areas of your case
- A law firm that is experienced in and understands the jury selection process
Only when you consider all of the above criteria will you be ready to make the most informed decision in your case.
If you have any questions about the steps you should take in making the important decision as to what sex crime law firm to retain, do not hesitate to contact Wallin & Klarich toll free at 877-466-5245 or go to wklaw.com for more information.
Wallin & Klarich
Paul J. Wallin