Choosing A Dope Defender

The prosecutor hates your guts and wants to put you so far away they'll.

have to shoot you at daylight with a cannon. Obviously, selecting a dope defender is serious business. If you are smart, you've already been gathering information for some time, noting who represents the heavies when they get busted, and watching whether they get off. Ask friends, remember names-you'll _ be glad you did when the sauce hits the airscrew.

After being busted, the first thing you need is representation at your arraignment. . Almost any lawyer wilL do for arraignment, although the better lawyer may be able to get lower bail or more favorable appeamnces schedule. Once the arraignment is over, you will-have time to shop around for the attorney who is, hopefully, going to rid you of this totally unjust rap of which you're completely innocent. .

A lawyer's office is part of his act„ lots of expensive furnishings and shiny employees. Very little about the quality of legal wit. can be determined from looking at the office, don't be taken in. A thickly padded carpet usu-♦ ally means a thickly padded legal bill, but it may be worth it. Top lawyers do lend to live a bit high.

As a matter of fact, unless you have bundles of green in the wall safe, it might be wise to check oui the public defender's office. Some public de-. fenders are top shelf attorneys and many public defenders are competent to handle routine busts with ease. In many areas, your case is just another number, another appearance, another guilty plea.

A lawyer on retainer sounds secure and arrived, but it doesn't mean much. Attorneys are accustomed to short hiring notice, retainer or no, if you have money available. It's going to be expensive anyway, so why drain resources in advance. Money stashed you can always recover; if your lawyer has it goodbye.

O.K., you need a lawyer to appear with you at arraignment, to arrange bail, set conditions of release, to arrange an appearance schedule, and to take depositions, and to file eariy motions ilie next week. One possibilr ity is to consult NORML's two lawyer referral numbers: Washington (202) 223-3170 and San Francisco (415) 563-5858.

This lawyer is used initially for the arraignment and for (he first week's activities. He needn't be used thereafter. The best lawyer you can come up wilh in jail, with one phone call, may noL be the best lawyer you can find given a week or two lo scout around, so don't commit, yourself to Ihe first lawyer you involve. Don't lock yourself into a "gratitude factor" with that first lawyer, and don't cough up any money or retainer fees until, you've had a chance to sit. down and think. If possible, avoid being released in your attorney's custody so that a switch later will not entail a trip back to court.

As for collecting information, a lawyer friend may be willing lo level with you about who's good and who isn't.. Lawyers usually know more about their peers than they are willing lo admit,: but friendship can sometimes secure a frank appraisal,, especially if the lawyer friend is not in the running for your1 money. A civil lawyer may also be a good source of an objective referral.. Pal's experiences are good sources, but the fact that a lawyer got them off may do nothing for you. Your case may be much more complex and serious, or it may be so easy that you would be overpaying for their attorney. Law clerks, bailiffs, stenographers, and other tipsters in the legal industry are all. good sources. But anyone person could be wrong. Never rely on a single source: get as many opinions as possible.

Don't be misled by the idea of the lawyer with connections. This sometimes works but less than most people think. Attorneys with pull may be good for getting a paving contract Willi the mayor, but that may not help your federal bust... Likewise, Ihe lawyer who implies that part of his astronomical fee will be spread around lo grease the wheels of justice should usually be avoided, unless you're sure the system of corruption is working smoothly in your town. Very often, the $2000 that supposedly went lo the judge went into yout lawyer's pocket, and you would have been cut loose anyway.

In really heavy cases, the question becomes whether lo go wilh a local attorney or bring in the out-of-town torpedoes. The local boy knows the background of the judge (may even play golf with him),, knows people at the prosecutors' office, and knows the way the political wheels turn locally. You can consults wilh him often, and there are no heavy travel expenses.

If you have a family lawyer who is non-specialized, he probably will, not be useful unless it's a very light bust.. Dope law praclice is so incredibly complex, with new defenses being developed daily and hundreds of opinions being handed down, that a non-specialist, no matter how sincere, is out of the running.

The out-of-town hired gun may have specialized skills unavailable locally. Unlike the local barrister, he doesn't care if he offends the locals, if lhalls what it takes. He'll never be running for office, so he doesn't care, whereas local attorneys are notoriously political animals.

Don't overestimate your case: this is the most common mistake after a bust.. Don't hire more lawyer than you need. Keep a sufficient margin, but if you've got a relatively simple case (considering locale and laws), don't fly in the heavy artillery for a light skirmish. Narrow your selection to three attorneys and decide. But before final decision, consider their records carefully; some lawyers are champions in the flyweight category alone.

It usually costs nothing to talk to a lawyer about your case. In the course of the interview, you can get an idea of how quick the lawyer is, how good his ideas are on how to beat your case, how good an impression he will make in court, and so on. The lawyer should exhibit a familiarity with current drug and search-a nd-seizure rel-ings, should be trustworthy, and a hairsplitter. Don't fall for the prints on his wall, you're buying the lawyer, not the lawyer's office.

After the lawyer tells you, "You're in big trouble!" to scare up the bill a bit, the lawyer will state a fee. A word to the wise; don't lake your fur-coated parents with you. As soon as parents are involved, the price rises. Never pledge your entire fortune to a lawyer-some will gladly lake it.

Don't feel discourteous bargaining. Be astute and make a reasonable counter offer. Find out exactly what you will get for your money; will the lawyer go through pretrial, trial and appeal? And set an ascending sched ule of payment... Paying the least if you plead guilty. Thy to extend ihe payments oui as long as possible. After all. he's doing his work over a long period of lime. Preferably, iL should be on a pay-as-you-go basis.

A few attorneys are willing to make a deal that you pay no fee unless you get off. This is almost always a good deal, if you can gel iL A good lawyer who has confidence in his abilities and is sensitive and sympathetic to your case may make such a deaL Go ahead and ask. Whatever the final arrangement, obtain a letter of confirmation of the deal or a written contract detailing what and for how much. Make certain lhat you know who will really be handling the case. Sometimes Ihe big name attorney is just bait, and a young inexperienced lawyer will actually be handling your case. Forget this-you can get a young, inexperienced lawyer cheap if ihatls what you want. Cover things like this in your contract..

Once the handshake is over, keep on the case. Any suggestions for a better defense should be brought up; your attorney may have missed a crucial angle. You will be asked to write down every deiaii of your case. Doii. A change of hairstyle or appearance often works in your favor wilh the judge, so cooperate with your lawyer. Over all, make sure you're getting yout money's worth.

Continue reading here: Enforcement

Was this article helpful?

0 0