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Local Legal Expertise Matters

Posted on 26 November 2017 by sam

Local Legal Expertise Matters

Not all attorneys are created equal. If you find yourself in a pickle, and if it’s a big enough pickle that you’ll need to a hire a lawyer to help you extricate yourself from it, then you shouldn’t just go with the very first lawyer you see on TV. Do some research first. Yes, time may be of the essence, especially if you’re facing an upcoming court date, but chances are you’ve already screwed up at least once if you’re facing criminal charges. Don’t compound the mistake by getting a lawyer that’s either a bad fit or just plain bad.

Jurisdiction matters

If you get arrested while traveling, you probably can’t just go back to your hometown and use the same family lawyer that you’ve known since you were a kid. You may be able to do that if, for instance you were arrested in Bakersfield but you live in Fresno, since those two cities are fairly close together and, more importantly, they’re in the same state. The law changes a lot when you cross state lines, though, so a lawyer from Seattle won’t be able to help you with an outstanding criminal case in Portland. Even if a lawyer can legally practice law in both Washington and Oregon, you want someone who is intimately familiar with the way the local court system works. You’ll also find a difference between local and urban situations, even if the city and town are in the same state. Your lawyer should have a decent working relationship with the prosecutors in town. Connections can be the key to getting your felony charge dropped down to a misdemeanor. It may not seem right, but it’s the way it goes in most places. So if you get a DUI in Rockford, Illinois, resist the urge to call up a lawyer from Chicago. Call a Rockford attorney instead and start hashing out a plan as soon as possible.

Experience matters

Sure, your cousin in law school may be able to give you some basic legal advice, but that’s not going to get you very far. If you’re facing drug charges, picking a lawyer with the right experience can literally mean the difference between jail time or probation and community service. Choosing the cheapest option is understandable if you’re shopping for pasta at the grocery store, since the worst-case scenario there is a mediocre dinner. The stakes are higher in criminal cases. Don’t forget that, and don’t treat it like it’s no big deal. It can be a very big deal. A good lawyer will let you know the gravity of your situation, and he or she won’t make promises he or she can’t keep, since it’s hard to predict how judges and juries will behave.

Legal representation isn’t cheap, but it’s a lot less costly than jail in every sense that matters. Public defenders are often more than capable, but they also have a ridiculous amount of clients to take care of, especially in an age where more and more states are slashing their offices’ budgets. If you have any (legal) way of affording a private attorney, then you should move heaven and earth to do it. A criminal record can affect everything from the type of job you get to where in town you can rent an apartment. If you don’t pay for good legal representation now, you’ll be paying for it later.