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What Credentials Should Someone Look for When Interviewing Attorneys?

The Law Office Phillips & Allen PA Nov. 20, 2022

A good place for someone to start would be by checking the attorney’s experience. A client would be able to go into judicial case searches and in Maryland, they would be able to type any attorney’s name and see the cases for which they had represented people.

The node of caution with that is that attorneys like us who manage to get over a third of our criminal cases expunged at the end need to add a third or more to the cases that the clients would see, in order for them to know what we had really done. The prospective client should also have a look at the attorney’s reputation by talking to people in the area and talking to court personnel because they would see who was coming and going or who was winning or losing.

Is It Better To Hire An Attorney Versus A Public Defender Or Representing Oneself?

The best course of action would be to get a private attorney. Private attorneys earn their living based on a reputation and they get that reputation by winning and getting results that are better than public defenders or a layman who went into the court on their own could manage.

Public defenders would be the second best option because the person would be getting a lawyer and they would show up and give the client a due process defense. They do not have a reputation to be that concerned about because they make a salary and they have a huge caseload, so they tend to do a minimalistic job.

Someone who decided to represent themselves should mind the expression that “A person who represents himself has a fool for a client,” because they would essentially be going into a very complex administrative procedural environment with little or no clue of what to do. It would be just like the analogy of someone going to a gun fight without a gun.

What Are Some Red Flags Someone Should Look For When Interviewing Attorneys?

Some red flags to be aware of would be that when talking to an attorney, the prospective client should remember that the attorney would be taking the time to ask detailed questions and detailed follow-up questions about the facts of the case. The client should see whether the attorney seemed knowledgeable about what he was talking about, whether he was giving specific and detailed analysis of what he saw in the case or whether he was making broad generalizations.

It would be a red flag if the attorney was making broad, sweeping, beautiful promises that sounded great but would not really be true and honest with regards to how the system actually worked. Attorneys who charge very small amounts of money might seem great but in a lot of ways, the client would get what they paid for, which would also be true for attorneys who charge huge exuberant amounts of money, because there would be a certain balance of diminishing returns to where someone might not be getting anything more for all that money.

How Often Can An Attorney Such As Yourself Get Charges Dropped, Dismissed, Or Reduced?

This varies from case to case. Generally, for any kind of a plea deal that is dropped, we would be looking to get a deal that was better than what we felt we could get at trial. There would be no point in making a deal for the same thing we could have gotten at trial. We would basically need leverage to help us get the charges dropped, so we would either need very compelling evidence to convince the state that the defendant did not do it or so we could convince them there was some tremendous flaw in their case to the point where they would lose.

The more leverage we had, the more we would be able to get done and we might even be able to get the case dismissed if we had a lot of leverage. We would usually find ourselves getting some kind of middle ground pretrial disposition if we had some leverage, even if it was not necessarily a homerun.

Maryland has something called a STET docket, meaning inactive, so it acts as a way for cases to be disposed off pretrial without any admissions or without any findings of guilt or conviction, although in certain cases it would also allow the state to be able to get people to do things, whether it meant getting some alcohol or drug treatment, taking an anger management class, doing some community service or maybe restricting them from having any contact with somebody, which would really be the two pretrial options in Maryland.

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