Things to Know When Hiring a California DUI DWI Attorney
You will need an attorney if police have recently arrested you for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But if you've never hired one before, you may not know how to find one. This article will give you the basics on how to find and hire a California DUI attorney.
Under California DUI laws, the penalties for drunken driving may include a four-month suspension of your driver's license for a first offense or a one-year suspension for a second within 10 years; imprisonment; a fine of $360 to $1,000, plus court costs and other fees; and DUI counseling
With so much at stake, you should not attempt to represent yourself. The steps to finding a California DWI attorney are simple enough:,/p>
- Gather some names of recommended lawyers
- Interview the attorneys
- Hire the best one for you
However, each step is dependent on doing your homework. Consider this article your study guide.
Gathering Names of California DUI attorneys
You may not realize it, but you already have several ways of finding attorneys. You can ask your friends, family members, and work associates if they have ever hired a California DUI attorney. If they have, you'll want to find out what they thought of their lawyer. Ask:
- Did the lawyer work hard?
- Was the lawyer's advice helpful?
- What were the lawyer's strengths? And weaknesses?
- Was your case resolved the way you wanted?
- Would you rehire the lawyer if necessary?
If you're reluctant to discuss your recent arrest with people you know, you should know that Attorneys.com offers a service that can connect you with a California DUI lawyer near you. To start the process, call 1-877-913-7222, or fill out the short form on this website.
Whether you are in San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, or any other part of the state, we will forward the name of at least one California DUI attorney near you after you answer a few questions. You may call the attorney directly, or he or she will get back to you within two business days.
Setting up the Interviews
After getting a name or two, call the California DUI lawyers and ask if they will sit down with you for a brief chat. Many lawyers in California will meet with prospective clients to introduce themselves and learn about your case.
These meetings are a good opportunity for you to learn about the attorneys' background and experience, get some feedback about your legal options and, most importantly, determine which lawyer you want to hire.
Driving under the influence is also referred to driving while intoxicated or DWI, in California. But whatever you call it, you'll want your California DWI lawyer to have experience representing clients who faced charges similar to your own.
To find out, you can ask the attorneys you meet how long they have been criminal defense lawyers, how long have they worked California DWI cases, and how many DWI cases they handle each year.
It's also to your advantage if your attorney is familiar with courthouse personnel and even the prosecutor in your case. Ask how often the attorney has appeared in the courthouse where your case will be heard.
Options & Strategies
The California DUI attorneys will likely have many questions for you regarding your arrest. They want to understand what kind of evidence the prosecution may have against you. You may have strong DUI defenses if the police officers based their arrest on field sobriety tests, an alcohol breathalyzer, or witness testimony. Strategy, however, is specific to each case and cannot be generalized here,
Your legal options, on the other hand, are clear. You have three choices. You can plead guilty, try to negotiate a plea bargain-which would have you pleading guilty to a lesser charge-or you could plead not guilty and take your chances in court. Go over each option and its consequences with the lawyers you meet.
At this point, you may be wondering how much a lawyer might cost. Rates vary from lawyer to lawyer, but in general, DUI lawyers in California use one of two billing methods: the hourly fee and the flat fee.
These fee structures work just the way they sound. Lawyers who prefer an hourly fee will bill you for the actual time they work on your case. Those who charge a flat fee have one price for their services.
However, neither fee covers everything. You will be asked to pay for many related legal expenses. These expenses may include court fees, photocopying, a paralegal's time, an investigator's fees, and travel expenses, to name a few. Make sure you get an estimate for how much these other expenses might total.
Some lawyers may be willing to reduce their rates a bit. However, you must ask about this before you hire someone. After you have hired a lawyer, it is too late to renegotiate the fee structure.
Finally, don't leave your first meetings without knowing what forms of payment the lawyers accept and whether they offer any payment plans.
If your intuition is trying to tell you something about the California DUI lawyers you meet, you would be wise to listen to it. Beyond the skills and experience an attorney brings, the human element is important. Do you like the attorney? Do you see yourself getting along with him or her? You may work together for several months, so it's OK to entertain these questions.
To get in touch with your feelings, notice whether the lawyers are patient with your questions. Do they put you at ease? Would your trust and confidence be well placed in them? With which attorney do you feel more comfortable?
Hiring a California DUI Attorney
When you have finished your last interview with the attorneys on your list, it's time to hire one to represent you. Think back on the subjects covered in this article: experience, strategy, legal fees, and your feelings. How do the attorneys you interviewed rate in these areas?
If you only met with one but you believe he or she excels in all the areas you need, then you have found your lawyer. If you're torn between two or more candidates, ask the lawyers for the names and contact information for a couple of former clients. Call them and ask the same questions listed above for friends and family members who may have hired a California DUI lawyer.
The feedback you receive should guide you to your best choice in a California DUI attorney. Once you have hired him or her, you can face the rest of your prosecution.