THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS PRESENTED WITH A VIEW TOWARDS AIDING YOU IN MAKING A DECISION REGARDING HIRING A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY TO REPRESENT YOU IN YOUR DRUNK DRIVING - DUI CASE.
WHO WILL ACTUALLY HANDLE MY CASE - AVOID THE BAIT AND SWITCH!
Beware of advertising that claims to provide criminal defense representation nationwide. Generally, these folks act as referral agencies. They arrange for attorney's with local ties to handle cases which come to them through national advertising. The name they advertise is not the name you will likely get. For example if the firm calls itself " BIG NAME LAWFIRM and Associates", the chances are you will get one of the associates, which in reality, is an attorney who has agreed to have cases referred to them by BIG NAME LAWFIRM and Associates.
Also beware that if you have found a "big name" attorney or law firm that you want to represent you it is very likely that an associate of the big name attorney or law firm will handle your case. Hiring a "big-name" attorney or law firm doesn't mean that he or she will personally handle your case.
Attorney's hire associates to work in their law firms. These are employees of the attorney and they handle whatever matters are assigned to them. Many of the best lawyers have associates work side by side with them to handle cases. If you have hired a "big-name" attorney make sure that if an associate is assigned to your case that they only make appearances in uncontested or routine matters, and absolutely not a trial without your express consent. You have hired the "big-name" not the associate. So demand what you have paid for.
Sometimes DUI defense attorneys will form partnerships. If the "big name" has partner. This partner is more likely be highly skilled and experienced in their own right. A partner compared to an associate shares and ownership interest in the law firm. They have a larger stake in the reputation of the law firm. "Big-names" do not form partnerships with other attorney's who are not equal in abilities. For example. if you hire the law firm "Best DUI Lawyer & Better DUI Lawyer", chances are you have a law firm dedicated to your defense which after all is what you are paying for.
To avoid the bait and switch, during the initial contact with the law firm, ask who will actually make court appearances in your case. Ask who the attorney will be if the matter is taken to trial. Ask these questions before making an appointment to see the attorney. Insist that you want to see the attorney, not an associate or non-attorney employee. If the "big-name" won't see you to accept your money, just think how hard it will be to stimulate their interest in your case after you have paid the retainer to an employee.
PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THE FOLLOWING: If you are interviewed over the phone or personally by a non-attorney who seems more like a salesman than a lawyer, you can probably expect to encounter the same attitude from the law firm throughout the pendency of your case.
Call DAVID ALAN DARBY, your ARIZONA DUI & CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY.
He will personally speak with you about your case either over the telephone or in person.
He will handle each and every aspect of your case personally.
He will be available to answer your questions throughout the pendency of your case.
He will make all court appearances personally absent some emergency or other conflict, and these rarely occur. If it should ever come about that Mr. Darby will not be able to attend one of your court proceedings, you will be advised well in advance of the situation and made aware of who will appear for Mr. Darby.
Nothing of substance will ever occur in your case without Mr. Darby being present. For example, if there is a Motion to Suppress Evidence scheduled in your case. Mr. Darby will handle the hearing personally or ask the court to continue it until such time as Mr. Darby is available.
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HOW MUCH ARE ATTORNEY FEES FOR DUI DEFENSE ANYWAY?
All attorneys claim to have something to offer potential clients which differentiates them from the competition. Many attorneys claim they offer low fees. Other attorneys claim an exceptional reputation and a high degree of skill. It is a safe bet that you will not find "low fees" and "high skill" in the same attorney. If you want low fees, do not expect a high degree of skill. However, because an attorney charges you a high fee does not necessarily mean that he is "highly skilled".
You must speak personally, face to face, with any attorney that you propose to retain. You must have an attorney that you can communicate with easily. Sometimes personalities clash. If after speaking with an attorney you feel that there are some communication problems, talk to couple of more attorneys. After you have talked to several defense attorneys you will then have a good feel for what is going on and will then be able to make an informed decision about which attorney to hire.
Criminal defense attorneys, and I mean those that really do criminal defense trial work, and not those that just claim they do, are an arrogant lot as a group. This is not a bad thing. This is a good thing. You will find many varied and interesting personalities doing criminal defense work. This is due to fighting for their clients day in and day out in a criminal justice system that is tilted in favor of the prosecution. Prosecutors want to put their clients in jail or worse and the rest of the system is there to assist them. Simply put, you don't want a shy wallflower for your attorney. You need an attorney that will stand and fight with you.
Don't expect your lawyer to be your friend. However, you can expect you lawyer to be friendly and cordial. You are hiring an attorney to represent you, to fight for you, to advise you of all things regarding your case. Your attorney must analyze your case through the eyes of his training and experience. Based on this analysis, your attorney must inform you of likely outcomes, even if he thinks this is something you don't want to hear.
The best way to find out who the good criminal defense attorneys are is to go to your local superior, municipal or justice court house. Inquire where the criminal courts or divisions are located. Attend some of the proceedings. Watch the attorneys that appear. Ask the court personnel who they would want to represent them if they needed a criminal defense attorney. These folks see these attorneys day in and day out. They have seen them at their best and worst under all manner of adverse circumstances. They have seen them win and they have seen them lose.
So how much will it cost anyway? As a general rule, criminal defense attorneys charge a flat fee for representation. This fees covers all the costs associated with handling your case through trial. Generally, this fee is paid up front and is non-refundable. However, some criminal defense attorneys charge a flat rate retainer which includes everything up to a trial. Fees for a trial are extra and are generally charged on a per day basis. Whatever arrangement you make with your attorney, insist that the fee retainer agreement is in writing. This insures that there are no misunderstandings regarding money.
For a highly experienced and qualified Arizona DUI defense attorney, you can expect to pay between $5,000.00 and $10,000.00 or more for a misdemeanor first offense retainer. This of course depends on the location of the case and the attorney's reputation. If you have prior DUI convictions within 5 years, or are charged with felony/aggravated DUI, expect to pay substantially more. The fees should also include the appearance at the MVD hearing if applicable. Make sure to ask what court appearances and services are included in the fee and get it in writing.
Some criminal defense attorneys will allow you to make monthly payments. In and of itself, this is not a bad thing. Hiring an attorney is expensive and it is sometime difficult to come up with the necessary money up front. However, these attorneys who are willing to take a small retainer up front and monthly payments thereafter generally are not expecting the case to go to trial. They probably need the business. However, many attorneys are willing to take 1/2 the retainer up front and allow you to pay the remainder off over the next several months.
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BEWARE OF DUMP-TRUCK ATTORNEYS THAT ONLY WANT TO PLEAD YOU GUILTY
"Dump truck" is what attorney's call other attorney's who mostly just plead their clients guilty, instead of trying cases. Unfortunately, there are a large number of them out there. They can be spotted in several ways.
Any attorney that quickly leads the conversation into talk about plea-bargaining, so it seems that is the primary focus, is suspect (unless there's several prior convictions or a high alcohol reading). Another sign of the dump truck is promises to get it all taken care of quickly with the least inconvenience on your part. One such attorney advertises, "NO COURT APPEARANCES, NO TIME OFF WORK". You can't fight the charges that way. Not surprisingly, his ad also says, "LOW COST".
Dump truck lawyers often run DUI mills with a large number of associate attorneys. Or, worse yet, attorneys that are hired on a per-appearance basis - they are paid maybe $100 each time they go to court. One sure sign of the dump truck is a low retainer fee, either alone or coupled with a comparatively astronomical trial fee. Ask up front how much the daily trial fee is. A reasonable fee - one designed to adequately compensate the attorney for hours of trial preparation as well as 8 to 10 or more hours per day during the trial itself - is between $1000 and $2500 per day. Such a fee is reasonable without being primarily intended to discourage clients from pursuing a trial.
On the other hand, some attorneys include the trial fee in the initial retainer. If your case is likely to be tried this can save you a lot of money, since the practice usually is that all similarly situated clients pay the same retainer, and many of their cases aren't tried. This allows the attorney to reduce the trial portion of the fee considerably.
To determine experience, always ask the question -- "How many jury trials have to done in the past ten years" Hopefully, the attorney will tell you the truth. The number he gives you is easily verified at the local courthouses. If the number seems low, you have to ask yourself if the attorney really does have the experience he claims. In the criminal defense business, like anything else, there is absolutely no substitute for experience. David Alan Darby has tried in excess of 150 cases to a jury or judge. These include cases as serious as capital murder to simple misdemeanors. For more information on David Alan Darby's experience visit click here!.
David Alan Darby is an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney who is not afraid to take you case to trial. Our philosophy is "DUI CASES CAN BE WON" with the proper application of experience, guts, and preparation.
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IS THE ATTORNEY CREATIVE AND SOCIABLE?
Criminal trials involve a process known among lawyers as "suspending reality" for the jury. That involves, number one, making the jury feel good about liking you. That's so the jury can willingly accept the possibility that you may be innocent, without thinking too much about all those other people who want to convict you (judge, prosecutor and cops). Winning trials also requires creative skills, presenting each case to the jury with another new angle that's unexpected by the prosecutor. It's kind of like planning the plays for a Superbowl.
All this takes an attorney with reasonably good acting ability and great social skills. If you feel like the attorney you're considering hiring is a person who is creative, feels comfortable and confident, and puts you at ease (as best as can be, under the circumstances), you've probably got a winner. But you'll need to talk to the attorney him or herself to make this determination. A face to fact interview is important before making the decision on which attorney to hire to represent you.
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WILL MY DUI CASE BE DISMISSED?
In Arizona, dismissal of DUI charges without an appropriate reason is against the law. This law can be found in A.R.S. § 28-1387(H) which states that a prosecutor shall not dismiss DUI charge unless there is an insufficient legal or factual basis to pursue that charge. What exactly does this mean. It means that a prosecutor will not plea bargain a case from a DUI to reckless driving for example unless he thinks he is not going to win. That is where an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney is invaluable. His job is to wreck so much havoc that the prosecutor concludes that he is not going to win the case. At that point he will be probably be more agreeable to a settlement. Does this always happen, the simple answer is no. However, if you have elected to fight your DUI charges, this is one of the strategies that must be used.
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AS A GENERAL RULE: YOU DON'T HIRE A GOOD DUI CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY TO PLEAD GUILTY AT THE FIRST COURT APPEARANCE.
A quick guilty plea at the first court appearance may occasionally be justified, but very rarely. Quality DUI criminal defense attorneys do not accept cases for clients who just want to plead guilty with a attorney by their side. Dump truck attorneys do that routinely, but good DUI attorneys won't take a case like that unless it's a first offense with a high blood alcohol result and the client just wants a quick review and advice. This service takes five to ten hours, including the time spent in court, with you on the phone and in the office. So it's worth between $1000 and $2000 dollars depending on the attorney's hourly rate.
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WHAT ABOUT EX-PROSECUTORS?
Many attorneys start off their legal careers working for the government arresting and prosecuting accused drunk drivers. Though the experience may have some benefits - familiarity with inside information - the opposite is also true - why did this person initially seek to put people like you behind bars? All in all, it's probably a wash. Nevertheless, some attorneys make the ex-prosecutor angle a major selling point in their marketing efforts. Frankly, having been an ex-prosecutor is nothing to brag about.
Unlike other criminal defense attorneys, Mr. Darby has NEVER prosecuted anyone on behalf of any governmental entity. Many criminal defense attorneys take pride in their past accomplishments as former prosecutors. Many began their legal careers working for the government to put people, just like you, in jail or prison. Now they claim this experience somehow better qualifies them to represent you. They hope to convince you that somehow you are better off with a DUI criminal defense attorney who was previously a prosecutor.
With all due respect to you, this is your life we are talking about. Wouldn't you really prefer an attorney who has ALWAYS been on your side, on the side of those accused of crimes, attorney diligently fighting against those same prosecutors? It is simply a matter of attitude.
Mr. Darby has practiced criminal defense law for 14 years. His practice is 100% devoted to criminal defense. He has never been a city, state or federal prosecutor.
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IS IS BETTER TO HIRE A LOCAL ATTORNEY WHO IS FRIENDLY WITH THE JUDGE AND PROSECUTOR?
There are pros and cons. Generally they balance out. However, if the attorney makes this a big deal selling point, it should make you wonder if there is anything more substantial that the attorney has to offer. A local attorney should know the judges, prosecutors, and the particular police department involved. This can be very helpful. However, sometimes familiarity breeds contempt. If a local attorney, uses his knowledge of the players along with all his experience handling DUI cases, then you should be in good shape. However, beware. All may not be what it seems.
On the other hand, an experienced DUI defense attorney can handle any case outside his local area. Why? Because he is not afraid of anything that may come up, and fears nothing. He is not going to be intimidated by the local judge, prosecutors or cops. Sometimes, this is a tremendous advantage. This permits your case to be handled outside the good ole boy network.
One attorney's website advises people that a lawyer probably won't help them much if the blood alcohol level is 0.10% or more. If that doesn't sound right to you, you're correct. The alcohol level is important, but not entirely conclusive, and 0.10% isn't really very high anyway. You have to remember, these cases can be won with the proper application of experience, guts, and determination. Those are the characteristics you are looking for in an attorney to defend you in your DUI case.
Essentially, you want a fighter, and not someone who is going to be a dump truck. Interview your potential attorney, look him in the eyes. Make a determination whether you can trust him. Why? it is the same determination the jury is going to make at trial.
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DON'T FOLLOW BAD ADVICE!
This one is tough. How do you know if you are receiving bad advice? Sometimes you don't until it is too late. Try to get a second opinion. Hopefully, any advice you get will be from an experienced DUI defense attorney with a track record. The questions always is how successful have you been anyway? You will receive answers to that question which will be all over the place. The answers will range from "Well, uh, uh, uh . . ." to "Oh, that is not what's important here" to " I have won x of my last x cases." If you hear the first two answers, my advice to you is to get up and "RUN" not walk, but "RUN" out of that attorney's office. You want to interview attorneys that will give you the best chance of winning. Period. If they are not thinking about winning your case, get out of there quick. You don't need an attorney to plead guilty.
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WILL THE JUDGE BE UPSET WITH ME IF I HIRE A LAWYER AND FIGHT THE CHARGES INSTEAD OF PLEADING GUILTY?
The constitution prohibits punishing you for asserting your right to a trial. Despite the constitution though, a very small number of judges do seem to punish for exercise of constitutional rights. This is a sad fact. This generally happens more in the smaller communities where the judges are elected justices of the peace. Many of these judges are not trained in the law. Don't get me wrong. The majority of judges are conscientious and take their jobs and positions seriously. However, some judges are lazy and don't like to conduct very time consuming jury trials and evidentiary hearings. Some of these judges are unqualified to hold their positions and try to compensate with bluster and intimidation. A good criminal defense attorney knows how to deal with this type of situation and won't back down to such tactics. An experienced criminal defense attorney will call the judge's bluff, outsmart him or her, or even arrange for a different judge to handle the case.
But if you feel like you'll just never be able to get rid of that knot in your stomach that shows up when you question authority, and you're too frightened to fight the charges in spite of that knot, you'll have to plead guilty . . . even if you aren't. It takes courage to have things your way. Sometimes it takes a lot of it.
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