By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
In Texas, if you have been charged with an offense you have three basic choices. You have the choice to plead guilty or not guilty, the choice to testify on your own behalf, and the choice to select a judge or jury to asses punishment if trial is unsuccessful. These are not simple choices, fun choices, or easy choices.
Your lawyer should be able to give you as complete a picture as possible with regards to the facts, the law, and the probable outcomes so that you are comfortable making these important decisions. Additionally, your lawyer should make it their business to be a skilled advocate for trial and/or dealing with the prosecutor or law enforcement. You need to be comfortable with your attorney and no one attorney is perfect for everyone.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions in your consultation. Appropriate questions are how many times an attorney has handled this type of case, what percentage of this type of case comprises their current case-load, and how often do they take cases to trial? These simple questions can tell you a lot about the lawyer such as their willingness and ability to explore every angle of your case.
Some lawyers can be very aggressive in their rhetoric but no lawyer can guarantee you results in any circumstance. Be very leery of lawyers who do. You can ask a lawyer their ‘win-loss’ record, but don’t expect many revealing answers. Cases, people, and their legal situations are like snowflakes. Sometimes victory means complete acquittal and an expunction and sometimes victory means dodging a legal bullet to the head and taking a flesh wound instead. Our profession is one of managing countless variables and cramming it into ‘win-loss’ context really doesn’t give anyone an accurate picture. When I get asked that question, I joke with people that I’m trying to make the playoffs!
Finally, don’t be afraid to visit multiple lawyers. Attorneys that are good at what they do shouldn’t be bothered by this. This is your critical decision, after all.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this should be construed as specific legal advice and you should consult an attorney for any specific questions.