There are a number of things to consider when interviewing and hiring a criminal defense attorney. Does the lawyer have the necessary skills and experience to handle your case? Do you agree with the proposed strategy? Do you have confidence in him or her? Is that confidence well placed?
This article discusses all of these considerations in more detail.
Before hiring a criminal defense attorney, you should meet the lawyer to discuss the legal charges against you. The purpose of this meeting is to:
- Decide whether this is the criminal defense attorney you want representing you
- Tell the lawyer about the accusations against you
- Give the lawyer your version of what happened and any other facts that may be relevant
- Get to know the lawyer, his or her background, and experience
Evaluating a Criminal Defense Attorney
Be careful interpreting the advertisements criminal defense lawyers use. Dont assume a lawyer is an expert in a particular area of the law. Its important to learn about background and experience.
Because youll be facing specific charges brought by a prosecutor, you want to make sure your criminal defense attorney has sufficient experience with those charges. Its also helpful if your lawyer is familiar with the prosecutor handling the case. Ask:
- How long has the lawyer been defending clients facing federal or state felony charges?
- How often does the lawyer appear in the courthouse where your case will be heard?
- How well does the lawyer know the prosecutor trying your case? Have they worked opposite one another before? How would the prosecutor describe the lawyer as an opponent?
- What percentage of the lawyers practice consists of representing clients facing similar charges?
- If the attorney practices in other areas as well, what percentage of the workload consists of criminal defense cases?
The ideal attorney will have experience with the exact charges you are facing. Its also helpful if he or she has a good reputation among the prosecutors who work out of the courthouse where you case will be heard.
Criminal Defense Strategy
The criminal defense attorneys you meet with will need to know what youre up against.
To understand the charges the local district attorneys office or U.S. attorney's office (for federal crimes) has filed, the lawyer may want you to fill out a questionnaire. Ask about any paperwork that needs to be sent to the lawyer ahead of the meeting, then make sure you follow through. This will give the attorney time to consider what strategies to pursue.
When you meet, let the lawyer lead the conversation. Some lawyers will want to hear about the case against you first before getting into your version of the events. Answer the questions that are specifically asked of you.
If you cannot get the prosecutor to drop the charges against you, you're facing several options. You can plead guilty, try to arrange a plea agreement in which you plead guilty to a lesser charge, or you can go to trial. Discuss each of these options and their consequences with the criminal defense lawyer. Depending on your states law, a guilty plea to a felony may result in mandatory jail time.
The criminal defense attorneys strategy will be tailored to the specific circumstances of your case. This includes the charges you are facing and the evidence the prosecutor has against you. As you discuss how the lawyer would handle your case, ask yourself:
- Does it sound as if the lawyer has a strong grasp of the law involved?
- Does the strategy seem reasonable?
- Do you agree with it?
In the end, you will have to live with the consequences of whatever strategy the criminal defense attorney pursues. If you have issues with it, this may not be the attorney for you.
Criminal Defense Legal Fees
If you've been charged with a serious crime, you need to find a criminal defense attorney quickly. You may not have the luxury of being able to shop around different lawyers and compare prices. Still, you should understand how a criminal lawyer charges for his or her time.
Most criminal defense attorneys will either bill using an hourly fee or a flat fee. Make sure you understand how much the attorney charges, what the fee includes, what the fee doesnt include, and how and when you must make payment. The discussion about money should take place before you hire an attorney so that there is no misunderstanding down the road.
Trust, Confidence & Judgment
One of the most important aspects of hiring a lawyer is not something concrete you can point to but how you feel about the attorney. You may be working with the lawyer for a while, and you'll want someone you can trust who shows good judgment and offers sound advice.
As you are meeting with a criminal defense lawyer for the first time, ask yourself a few questions to gauge your feelings. Ask:
- Is the lawyer patient with you as you ask questions?
- Does he or she take the time to explain unfamiliar concepts?
- Do you feel your questions were answered directly?
- Do you feel comfortable with the lawyers recommended strategy?
If you are unfamiliar with the criminal justice system, you'll especially want a lawyer who is patient with you and answers all of your questions.
After your meeting, its time to assess the lawyer. Is this someone you want representing you? How does he or she measure up when you consider:
- Fees and expenses
- Trust, confidence, and judgment
If the lawyer rates favorably, then you have found your legal representation. Our main office is conveniently located just off Highway 59 in Loxley. Office hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Our offices have free on site parking and the Loxley office is handicapped accessible. Mr. Cowling will visit you in jail, if necessary. We accept MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express, cash and checks, and will work out a payment plan if needed.
When facing legal problems, time is not on your side. Determine your best course of action today by calling us for a free initial consultation or contact us via email by filling out the form on this website.
A 27-year-old man is behind bars Friday after police seized hydroponic marijuana estimated to be worth nearly $50,000 during a narcotic investigation Thursday, said a Mobile Police Department spokeswoman.
Around 12:40 p.m. on Thursday, members of the Mobile County Street Enforcement Narcotics Team wrapped up a narcotic investigation on the 1100 block of Oak Street, said MPD spokeswoman Ashley Rains.
They seized a 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer, $772 in cash and 6.5 pounds of hydroponic marijuana, which Rains said has an estimated worth of $48,750.
Justin Cole Labiche, of Mobile, was arrested and charged with trafficking marijuana in the case.
Records from Mobile County Metro Jail show Labiche has previously faced jail time on marijuana-related charges.
In 2004, Labiche was charged with first-degree possession of marijuana after police were called to a report of shots fired on Cody Road North. An officer found a gallon-sized bag filled with marijuana on the floorboard of a vehicle, which Labiche said was his, according to an officer's deposition.
MOBILE, Alabama – Businesses that don't have the ability to electronically verify the worth of a check written to them now have a resource available through the Mobile County District Attorney's Office that can help them avoid worthless-check writers, or get money back that is owed them.
On Monday, District Attorney Ashley Rich announced a new function to the website MobileDA.org, which allows the public to see information about the people writing bad checks, and also an access point where those who have done so can pay back what they owe.
"The automated payment system allows personnel within the District Attorney's Office Check Enforcement Division to direct more of their efforts to trying to find these bad-check writers," Rich said. Currently there are 36,656 active worthless checks in her office's database. During the 2012-2013 fiscal year, more than $627,000 in fees and restitution was collected by the bad-check unit, she said.
The new online database should dramatically increase the amount collected, Rich said, and it has already led to many tips from the public as to where some of the bad-check writers can be found.
"Writing a bad check is a crime and we will prosecute anyone who does write a bad check to a merchant when they know they do not have the money in the account to cover the goods and services that are being provided," she said.
To view the photo database, users can log onto the MobileDA.org website and go to the tab on the right that says "Bad Check Writers." For those who would like to pay for a check they have written, there is a tab labeled "Check Writers Pay Online" just below that. Payments can also be made through an automated telephone system, at 877-958-8454.
Another service the district attorney's website provides is the ability for merchants to make their own most wanted posters for bad-check writers who have victimized their businesses. Under the "Protecting the Community" tab at the top of the website, there is a "Most Wanted" link that allows merchants to choose a photo and information to be included on the printable poster.
For more information, visit MobileDA.org. To report a worthless check, contact the District Attorney's Office at 251-574-5775.
If you have been improperly placed into the website, or have issues reguarding your offense, Attorney John W. Cowling can help you in you defense. Contact our Mobile office at 251-432-7667 today.
MOBILE, Alabama – A proposal to potentially link Mobile City Council members and the mayor's salary increases to cost-of-living raises city employees get was defeated by the council on Tuesday.
With a 4-3 vote, the council shot down a proposal pushed by Councilman Fred Richardson that would ask the Alabama Legislature to amend the Zoghby Act – the state law that establishes how Mobile's council-mayor form of government should operate – and link elected official pay raises with those of city employees.
The measure needed five votes for approval. Voting in favor of it were Richardson, Reggie Copeland, C.J. Small, and William Carroll. Voting against were Bess Rich, Gina Gregory and John Williams.
Following the vote, Rich and Gregory said they didn't support the proposal because they felt the council positions are public service jobs that are also part time.
"In the future, it might be the route we decide to go but it also brings up other questions," Gregory said. "If the economy improves and we are able to offer raises to employees every year, then does that mean the council raises continue to go up? Do we then look at capping the salary? I think it just opens up other questions that need to be looked at."
Richardson, in pushing for the proposal, said the present system of requiring the council to vote on its own raises every four years is not working because councilors have not voted themselves a raise in more than 16 years.
Richardson questioned why it is appropriate for federal and state lawmakers to approve their own pay raises, and not OK for the council to do the same.
"You can call Washington all you want, but they can't pave your street," Richardson said. "We are on the front line. To say there should never be a time a city council member or the mayor, who is working full time, should not receive a raise ... it's nonsense."
Richardson has said the proposal would mirror what is currently allowed for Mobile County commissioners, who last received a pay raise with the rest of the county's employees in 2008.
The council, last month, approved a 2.5 percent across-the-board pay increase for city employees as part of the fiscal year 2014 budget.
The council, however, did not endorse a pay raise for itself earlier this year when it had the opportunity to do so. Council and mayor pay raises can only be approved six months before a city-wide election, and the next time they can be authorized is in 2017.
"This is a common sense resolution," Richardson said, who emphasized that the proposal was not an actual vote for a pay raise.
Councilman William Carroll urged the council's more "conservative" members not to bend to constituency pressure of avoiding pay increases for elected officials.
"The fear I see from the conservative side of the council is the fear of a whiplash from what the general public might say about additional revenues going to an elected official," Carroll said. "If you are afraid of what the public is going to think, you need to educate the public on what actually happens in these chairs. The public is unaware of the midnight and 2 a.m. phone calls for service."
Carroll also said any consideration to reduce council member or the mayor's pay could lead to a situation where only the privileged serve.
"If at some point that Mobile feels as if those we elect should not be compensated, then we've gone backward," he said.
At a glance: Help protect trick-or-treaters by following these driving safety tips on Halloween, or on the night your community hosts Halloween activities. Be especially careful between 4 and 8 p.m., when most severe vehicle/young pedestrian collisions happen.
Drive slowly, and don't pass stopped vehicles. The driver might be dropping off children.
Park your mobile phone. Avoid distractions by waiting until you've stopped to call, text, or surf.
Watch for children darting into the street. Kids can cross the street anywhere, and most young pedestrian deaths happen at spots other than intersections.
Yield to young pedestrians. Children might not stop, either because they don't see your vehicle approaching or don't know how to safely cross the street.
Communicate with other drivers. Always use your turn signals. And if you have to pull over to drop off or pick up your kids, turn on your hazard lights.
And, to keep your own trick-or-treaters safe:
Teach them how to safely cross streets. They should look both ways and cross only at corners and crosswalks.
Consider indoor community Halloween programs for younger kids. Some communities also offer to help you inspect your kids' treats to make sure they're safe to eat.
Brighten them up. Give them flashlights and glow sticks, and/or use reflective tape on their costumes, so drivers can see them.