Hiring an Attorney?
Any time the government wants to take away your freedom, you must be prepared to defend yourself. Whether already arrested or being investigated for a crime, you could face consequences ranging from the stigma of being labeled a criminal, to fines and fees, to probation, to incarceration. The government will have an attorney on its side who seeks to restrict your freedom at each stage of the process. You should have a passionate, experienced criminal defense attorney on your side defending your freedom.
Scott Berry has been a criminal defense lawyer since 2001. He is a board certified specialist in criminal trial law and devotes his practice entirely to criminal defense in both federal and state court. He is considered an expert in the field by the Florida Bar Board of Specialization and Legal Education. He has tried more than 50 felony cases to verdict in front of a jury, including murder, manslaughter, DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, sexual offenses, aggravated battery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and drug trafficking. Besides his extensive trial experience, he has helped 1000s of clients facing charges including fraud, theft, domestic violence, DUI, drug possession, burglary, robbery, fleeing and eluding, and many others. He has represented doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, police officers, and other professionals. He has appeared in federal and state court, adult and juvenile court, felony and misdemeanor court.
Scott believes strongly in providing an aggressive, creative, and discreet defense to each of his clients. He will listen to your side of the story, thoroughly investigate your case, file motions on your behalf when appropriate, aggressively negotiate a settlement if you desire, and prepare your case for trial as quickly and effectively as possible. Scott would rather spend 100 hours on a single client than spend 1 hour on 100 clients. He provides focused attention to your problem and does everything he legally and ethically can to solve it. Scott recognizes that while your case may not be the biggest case he has ever handled, it is definitely the biggest one you have ever experienced. Therefore, each client gets Scott’s personal cell phone so they can contact him any time with questions or concerns about their case. Simply stated, the client is the most important part of the relationship.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are hiring a criminal defense attorney without the benefit of a referral from a close friend or family member, you will have to make a judgment call. The most important thing to consider in making this difficult decision is whether or not you trust the criminal defense attorney you hire. Trust is vitally important because you are hiring that criminal defense attorney to help you make some very difficult decisions. Most criminal cases resolve in one of two ways: they go to trial, or they are settled by a plea agreement. Most likely, your case will also be resolved in one of these two ways. Part of your criminal defense attorney’s job is to advise you regarding this decision. If you hire someone you cannot trust, you will not adequately consider his advice. If you aren’t going to consider his advice, then why did you hire him?
Some questions to consider as you decide who to hire:
1. WILL YOUR ATTORNEY BE THERE FOR YOU WHEN YOU NEED HIM?
When you find a criminal defense attorney you are considering hiring, you should meet with him or her in person. If the criminal defense attorney you found doesn’t return your call within 24 hours of the time you called, find another criminal defense attorney. If the criminal defense attorney you found can’t find time to meet with you within 72 hours of your call, find another criminal defense attorney. When the criminal defense attorney you have found doesn’t have the time to call you or meet with you before you have paid their fee, they certainly will not have time to call you after you have paid their fee. Scott Berry always returns phone calls within 24 hours and will do everything possible to meet with you in person within 72 hours of your call.
2. IS YOUR ATTORNEY HONEST AND THOROUGH IN EXPLAINING POSSIBLE OUTCOMES?
If the criminal defense attorney you found promises you results, find another criminal defense attorney. A reasonable promise for your criminal defense attorney to make is that he or she will work as hard as they can to resolve your case in a timely fashion in a way that is acceptable to you. It is reasonable for the attorney to guarantee you he or she will do everything legal and ethical to convince the prosecutor, the judge or the jury to let you go. It is NOT reasonable for the criminal defense attorney to promise you he will get you out of jail or get your case dismissed or get you probation. These are all things that require the consent of another party that your criminal defense attorney can’t control. If he or she makes these promises to you, your criminal defense attorney is either delusional or lying. You should not trust him and you should seek other counsel.
3. WILL YOUR ATTORNEY FIGHT, EVEN AGAINST TOUGH ODDS?
If the criminal defense attorney you found tells you he or she has never lost a trial, you should be concerned. As a general rule, if the criminal defense attorney tells you he or she has never lost a trial, that attorney is either lying or hasn’t tried very many cases. The fact is that most of the time, when the police arrest someone, they have evidence to prove that person’s guilt. This fact alone means that if you try enough cases, you are going to lose some. Beyond the evidence issue, juries are largely unpredictable. This means that even those cases that appear to be sure winners can become losers once the jury begins deliberations. As a criminal defense attorney, you would have to be awfully lucky to try a large number of cases and never lose one.
Trial experience matters even if you are planning to plead guilty. Trial experience matters for several reasons. First, while you are planning to plead guilty, you may not like the offer the prosecutor makes. In fact, the prosecutor may not even make you an offer. If your criminal defense attorney doesn’t have any trial experience, what will you do? The answer is you will go to trial with an inexperienced criminal defense attorney. The second reason trial experience matters is because it shows a willingness to fight. A criminal defense attorney’s reputation is a very important aspect of his or her ability to negotiate effectively. If the prosecutor knows that your criminal defense attorney is not afraid to go to trial, that prosecutor is more likely to be reasonable in negotiating a settlement. Why? Because prosecutors have enormous case loads and try a lot of cases as it is. They are generally seeking an opportunity to settle their cases so that they have time to work on the more serious ones. If your criminal defense attorney never goes to trial, prosecutors know that. They also know that means they can make less reasonable offers to your attorney because he or she is more likely to tell you to accept them. Trial is not always the answer to your criminal defense problem, but it should always be a possibility.
4. DOES YOUR ATTORNEY KNOW CRIMINAL LAW SPECIFICALLY?
If you are considering hiring an attorney who doesn’t specialize in criminal defense, consider this: would you hire a psychiatrist to perform brain surgery? Of course not. Even though both are doctors with medical degrees who deal with the brain, they do not do the same job. Similarly, you should not hire a tax attorney or a personal injury attorney to represent you on a criminal matter. Attorneys who devote their entire practice to a particular area of law are more likely to have the kind of experience necessary to properly represent you in that type of case.
Ask your criminal defense attorney about his or her experience. Find out how long he or she has been practicing law. Then find out how long he or she has been practicing criminal law. Then find out how long he or she has been practicing criminal defense. Find out how many criminal trials he or she has conducted and how many of those trials were as the defense attorney. It is one thing for your criminal defense attorney to have been lead counsel on 50 murder cases and another thing entirely if he or she was the prosecutor on 49 of them. There are many great criminal defense attorneys who started their careers as prosecutors. But the fact they were previously prosecutors does not automatically make them great criminal defense attorneys. Experience matters and you should be very concerned about your criminal defense attorney’s experience defending criminal cases.
5. IS YOUR ATTORNEY POLITE?
If you meet with the criminal defense attorney you found and he or she is unpleasant or rude to you or your family, find another criminal defense attorney. There is no justification for a criminal defense attorney to be mean to you, talk down to you, or insult you in any way. Part of the criminal defense attorney’s job is to help you find your way out of a difficult situation with the least amount of damage to your life. If he or she can’t even be nice to you at the beginning, it is not likely to get better. Don’t think for a moment that attorney will be any better at negotiating with the prosecutor, convincing the judge to do anything, or persuading a jury to win your case. No one likes the mean guy.
If you or a loved one is in trouble, contact Scott Berry Law today to schedule a consultation with Board Certified Criminal Trial Attorney Scott Berry.