Choosing the Right DWI Lawyer
Finding a lawyer who is experienced in handling DWI cases should be your top priority. DWI laws are constantly changing and the consequences of a conviction are becoming harsher and harsher, not to mention the negative impact of being labeled a criminal for the rest of your life.
If you have never been through this before, you probably don’t know who to call, and it seems lawyers are a dime a dozen. If you have been through this before and are searching for a different lawyer, you know just how important it is to hire an experienced DWI lawyer. You need to understand just because someone is a lawyer does not mean they have the necessary DWI experience to defend you and your DWI case.
Furthermore, not knowing what to look for in a DWI defense attorney makes the challenge of finding the right lawyer even more difficult. It is extremely important to find an experienced, competent DWI defense lawyer who knows how to investigate your case for factual and legal defenses, visit the scene with a camera for potential trial exhibits, interview witnesses, suppress evidence, compel discovery of offense reports and breath test maintenance records, negotiate for a dismissal or reduction in charges, obtain expert witnesses for trial, attempt to save your driving privileges, and who knows how to win the “difficult” case. In essence, you need a lawyer who will fight for you and leave no stone unturned in defending you. Remember, a conviction on your record will be there forever!
Contrary to popular belief, local bar association referral services are not necessarily a good source of information since they do not screen for qualifications. You are simply given the next name on the list. Likewise, any lawyer can take out an ad in the Yellow Pages, regardless of experience or ability.
You should attempt to retain a lawyer who devotes the majority of their practice to defending DWI cases. No lawyer can give you a guarantee on the outcome of your case (if one does, beware!); however, retaining a lawyer who concentrates on DWI defense will maximize your chances of being found Not Guilty.
If you do not have a sense of comfort and confidence after meeting with a lawyer about your case, you should continue to look.
After meeting with the lawyer, the following should be evident:
* The lawyer has extensive experience in litigating and trying DWI cases;
* The lawyer has a reputation for going to trial (not for pleading clients guilty);
* The lawyer has won difficult cases (they are not all talk);
* You feel comfortable in the manner in which the lawyer communicated with you (If you are not comfortable, do you think the jury would feel comfortable?);
* The lawyer listened to you (or did they do all the talking?);
* The lawyer was genuinely interested in you and your case;
* The financial agreement was clearly defined; and
* You have a strong sense of confidence in their ability to professionally and competently handle your case!
Another very important point to emphasize is to not overpay when you choose a lawyer. There are some DWI cases that just can’t be won. It makes no sense to a person to spend thousands of dollars on a DWI defense, when your chances to win are very low.
Also don’t be misled into believing that your lawyer is better if you pay him or her a larger retainer. This is a big myth! In New Jersey there is no right to a jury trial in a DWI case. Therefore, a DWI defendant can only win so many cases. If New Jersey gave defendants a right to a jury trial in a DWI case, then I am convinced that there would be a much higher rate of not guilty verdicts in DWI. However, New Jersey undoubtedly would increase the penalties for DWI if a right to a jury trial ever came into existence.
Given these circumstances, there really is no Johnny Cochran of DWI lawyers. Be smart when you choose your DWI lawyer. Don’t be talked into paying a $5,000 retainer, when your chances to prevail are low to begin with. There are many very qualified lawyers in New Jersey who will represent DWI defendants for an affordable fee.