Good Lawyers Come in all Shapes and Sizes, Bad Lawyers do too
When looking for a criminal attorney it is very important to do your research, ask the appropriate questions, and be comfortable with the attorney who is representing you.
I became a lawyer when I was 25 years old, and I have been blessed to have enough work to have been in the courtroom almost every work day since I started practicing. Now, as a lawyer in my 30’s, I still sometimes get the “looks” and the questions asking if I am even old enough to be a lawyer. I have heard multiple times that “older is better”, “older equals more experience”, etc…and while it pertains to some attorneys, that could not be further than the truth.
There are many outstanding attorneys who have over 20 years of experience. Attorneys that I would be willing to place my life in their hands if I ever had any legal trouble. But there are also attorneys that have been licensed many years that I would NOT pay $1 to if they were the only attorney available.
On the flip side, there are many young attorneys who are wonderful. Who fight day in and day out, who surround themselves with good mentors, who I would trust if I was a client. And then of course, there are young attorneys who are just starting and simply don’t have a clue what is going on.
It’s tough when you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know who to hire. The best bet is to ask a bunch of question to perspective attorneys, and go with someone who you will feel comfortable with.
Even as a somewhat young attorney, I am always honest about what my strategy would be, my experience on a particular type of case, etc. I have hired co-counsels in past to help me on difficult cases, even if it means some of the money isn’t coming my way. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about me, it’s about the person whose life is on the line.
Recently I was fired on a case where my client was facing a range of punishment of 25 years to life in prison. The facts were not great, I did my research, worked the case, and was finally given an offer well under the minimum of 25 years. The client fired me on good terms, stating that he appreciated everything I have done, but that, “he needed an old lawyer on his case, someone with more experience.”
His family told me the same thing and later I saw the name of the attorney who took the case over. I had never heard of him so I looked him up and I saw that he was an older gentleman in his late 50s, but I also noticed that he went to law school and graduated in 2011. So he has only been an attorney for 2 years, with much less experience than I have.
Now this attorney might be one of the wonderful recent graduates who surrounds himself with the right mentors, and does an excellent job for his clients….or he might be horrible. Of course I don’t know for sure, but I am assuming that this client hired him simply because of his age, because that is what he told me. But the point is, you should not judge a book by its cover. Do your research, ask your questions, and make sure you are properly represented.
Just a tip to anyone who might ever be in jail, or have a family member or friend in jail…don’t say anything you on the phone that you would not want the prosecutor handing your case to hear. Being a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney I have come across many individuals who did not know that all jail phone calls are recorded. And that’s because there is an automated voice on the phone that tells you the call is being recorded.
A perfect example is a case I heard about where the defendant swore up and down to his attorney that he was innocent. It got to the point where the attorney was convinced as well that he was telling the truth. The case dragged on for over a year until the point where it was time to take a plea deal or set it for trial. The prosecutor called the day before court and said there was some interesting jail phone calls, and that the defense attorney might want to listen to them.
Well surprise, surprise…on these phone calls, the defendant admitted guilt several times and was still running his “business” and giving directions to his people on the outside. The defense attorney got a copy, let his client listen to the calls, and they took a plea deal the next day.
The first thing this defendant did wrong was lie to his attorney. If your attorney does not know the truth, then it is extremely hard to defend the case. The second thing he did wrong was talk about private business on the jail lines. This was an extreme example, but it can come into play with even the smallest of criminal cases. You could say something that is completely innocent about your case and your words may be used against you. A lot of times words are taken out of context and things sound worse than they really are. Nothing is worse than being innocent and arrested for something you didn’t do. The last thing you want to do in this situation is say anything that might call your innocence into question.
So to sum it all up, DON’T TALK ABOUT YOUR CASE ON THE JAIL PHONES! Your family can come visit you, so can your Houston Criminal Defense Attorney. And it’s really none of your friends business! There is a proper time to discuss your case, and over the phone is not one of them. I would be willing to bet that almost every Criminal Lawyer in Houston has a story that is similar to the one above. So if you are ever in the horrible spot of being in jail, or having a loved one in jail, limit your phone conversations to anything other than your criminal case.