As a defense lawyer, what percentage of your practice is criminal defense?
In Indiana, lawyers are prohibited from advertising as “specialists” in criminal law (or in a subset of criminal law). That being said, the legal profession has become considerably more complicated over the years, and the consequences of criminal convictions are much more complicated and devastating. Many attorneys have started to concentrate their practices in just a few areas of the law in order to stay abreast of all the changes. In the area of criminal law, the number of laws in the criminal code has more than doubled in the past ten years. Just this year, there have been significant changes to the criminal code. To defend against all the possible laws and subsequent charges that face clients, my practice is entirely devoted to criminal defense.
How long have you been a criminal defense lawyer?
I’ve been practicing exclusively criminal law for fifteen years out of my twenty years as an attorney. There is a belief that a lawyer who passes the bar exam is presumed to be competent enough to handle a criminal case. But to be appointed counsel on certain major felonies, the lawyer has to have had at least a few years of experience. Wouldn’t you want your attorney to have more trial experience than a fresh-faced graduate or a new public defender?
How many jury trials have you won?
I’ve successfully tried a majority of my 150 jury trials. There are three major factors in getting a satisfactory result in your case:
• The facts of the case.
• The trial reputation and skills of your attorney.
• Your attorney’s knowledge of the law.
If your lawyer has had a significant record of success at trial, very often that can favorably affect the outcome of your case. Experience also builds upon itself. The same strategic skills used in persuading juries, for example, are often effective in persuading judges at sentencing when the facts are not in your favor.
Why should I hire you?
You may want to read my “Firm Overview” to get a deeper understanding of my qualifications as an Indiana criminal defense attorney, but I can summarize here. My extensive experience at trial, my understanding of plea negotiation, and my deep knowledge in legal strategies (based on an understanding of the rules of evidence and their application) are just a few strong benefits of this firm.
In order to be good at something, you must do it often. Jury trials are highly stressful for even the best lawyers and can be overwhelming for those who aren’t used to them. In order to overcome the errors that can happen under this duress, a lawyer needs to have sufficient experience to stay calm and to pay close attention during slow moments in a trial.
Surprising things can happen which can affect the outcome of a case. During a murder case I tried, for example, one of the state’s most important witnesses fell asleep in the witness chair while a secret tape recording of my client was being played. I was the only person in the room who noticed, and waved my hand in front of his face, thus prompting the judge to direct a bailiff to wake the witness up. When the jury saw this, they perceived the witness to have a lack of seriousness about his testimony and the case. I believe it made a significant difference in the outcome. The jury deadlocked with the majority for acquittal, and the case was later dismissed.
It is both the depth of my experience and facility with the courtroom that makes this law firm different. I focus on criminal law. This can make all the difference.
Have you ever had a case similar to mine?
Very likely, but that doesn’t tell you what you need to know. Every case, including such serious things as a B felony, is simply not the same. Defending a person who has shot someone in self defense is considerably different than defending someone who is accused by a former spouse of child molestation, or someone who is accused of dealing a controlled substance, or of burglarizing a home. Each of those acts listed are B felonies. In order to be successful in any kind of case, it is crucial to have extensive prior experience. The cross-examination of an alleged battery victim that you wish to have lose their temper in front of a jury is different than the gentle, delicate questioning of a child who has been coached into making an abuse accusation by a parent or other adult.
Only sufficient experience and advanced training in criminal law can make the difference. Cases such as so-called “shaken baby” cases, or others involving alleged child abuse, need a level of familiarity with cutting edge medical research, terminology, diagnosis, and the need the ability to reduce complicated medical evidence into simple and straightforward terms for the jury.
If you contact me, I can discuss the facts of your case. It is very likely with my years of practicing as a defense attorney that this firm will be a benefit to your representation.
How much do you charge?
(Please see my attorney pricing page for more information on this topic.)
Some lawyers charge more than this firm, some charge less. A decision on who the best defense lawyer is for you should not be based on price alone. We charge based upon the specific facts of a case, the severity of the charges, the number of counts, the anticipated difficulty of the case, and the county and court where the case is located. If you have lost your case at trial, or your lawyer has pressured you into a plea agreement because you are afraid to go to trial, then it is extremely hard and expensive to attempt to correct the error later.
It is my belief that the client should know how much the attorney’s fees will be at the outset of the case. Make sure that you understand what the price is that you are being quoted, what it all entails, and what time frame you are required to have it within. If you refuse a plea agreement, you don’t want be surprised by a quote for a trial fee that is well outside what you could ever afford.
What can you do that the public defender can’t?
With a public defender, your case can be handed off to someone who doesn’t know the particular details of your case that can prove vital to its outcome. For example, paralegals and investigators do much work for public defenders. As a criminal defense attorney in private practice, I do the necessary investigation and research myself. I want to know exactly what’s going in your case. If you hire a public defender, your case could get passed off to someone else. When that happens, your case spends more time in legal limbo as the new attorney gets up to speed on all the evidence in your case.
I can give you more personal attention, and spend more time with you and your family to help understand and explain the case more. I can get to know you more as a person, so that if the case has to go to trial, I can perform better. For example, if we have to negotiate a plea, sometimes people have specific health issues or personal problems that an attorney only discovers after spending time with a client. If someone has to go to jail as a result of a case that can’t be won at court, knowing about serious health issues can get a sentence less than jail. If I know about drug, alcohol or mental health problems, it can help argue me a case with the prosecutor and the judge that can lessen the charges facing a client.
Moreover, certain felony convictions can result in people losing a job position or security clearance, situations that might not be obvious to a public defender. It’s not apparent, for example, that someone is an undocumented immigrant – but a conviction for an undocumented immigrant can have consequences for their residency.
How often will you be in touch with me about my case?
In a criminal case, I’ll contact you anytime there’s a new development that affects you. Or, you may contact me anytime you feel a need to know more about my case, have any questions, or face a new issue related to your case. I know clients need to be reassured regularly, given the extreme outcomes they may be facing. I want clients to contact me with anything they think may be important, because sometimes what they tell me can become crucially important.
Another defense lawyer guaranteed they can get my case dismissed. Can you?
If any criminal defense attorney guarantees a specific outcome in the case, you should immediately leave or hang up. There’s no way to guarantee anything in a criminal case. As a lawyer, you can say what has happened in your experience, in the past. You can also say what a likely outcome might be, based on history and charges. But guaranteeing a specific outcome is both unethical and impossible. An attorney could be disbarred for that. It’s an ethical violation.
Unfortunately, prospective clients tell me all the time that lawyers will make such claims. In my opinion, this is a bait-and-switch tactic by unethical lawyers. You might be persuaded to hire them based on this guarantee and then after talking with them more, they’ll claim that the specific facts of your case make it impossible to fulfill that guarantee. At that point, you are already involved with them and you’ll want the case to keep moving forward. They know that it is unlikely that you’ll switch to another lawyer.
But can you get my charges dropped?
Once charges are files, it’s very difficult to get them dismissed. Extremely rare. That’s why it’s important to hire a defense attorney before charges are filed, especially in a sex crimes case. For example, I’ve had multiple clients who have been the target of rape accusations made by angry women. We were able to get our side of story in front of the police before charges were filed. I’ve proposed specific questions that the police should ask the supposed victim. When they do that follow-up, often law enforcement will realize the victim is not credible. It’s better to have this happen before charges are filed, as you save the cost of a trial, bad publicity and possibly even the loss of a job. If accusations are dismissed, all of these problems are avoided.
What happens next if I choose to hire you?
If files have been charged, then I’ll file a form on your behalf saying I am your attorney. If you’re not charged yet, I’ll contact the police investigator and/or the prosecuting attorney to inform them that I am representing you. Before official charges are filed, I help to influence the investigation as much as possible.
This period of time can be crucial, so don’t wait before contacting an attorney. If you’ve been charged, I request “discovery” in the case to find out the specifics of the charges and the facts of the case. I then begin to make a plan as to how to help you to the fullest extent possible.