How to Hire a New Jersey DUI DWI Lawyer
If the police have arrested you for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, you need a New Jersey DUI lawyer.
Other states use different terms for drunken driving, such as driving while intoxicated, or DWI, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, or OWI, and operating under the influence or OUI.
A New Jersey DUI lawyer can try to negotiate lesser charges, defend you in court, and appeal a conviction if necessary. Possible New Jersey DUI penalties include fines, jail time, mandatory rehabilitation (rehab) and loss of your driver's license, to name only a few. You should not represent yourself with so much at stake.
But if you've never hired a criminal defense lawyer before, you may not know where to find one. This article will not only explain how to find a New Jersey DUI attorney, but how to find the best one for you.
Finding a New Jersey DUI Lawyer
If you believe you cannot afford an attorney, you can apply to the court for a public defender. The application costs $50, and you will have to provide documentation of your financial situation.
The judge in your case will ultimately decide whether you qualify for a public defender. If you do, you must accept the attorney assigned to your case. You do not have a say in which lawyer from the public defenders' office represents you.
If the judge rejects your application, you need to find a private New Jersey DWI lawyer. You have several ways you can do that.
You can ask around your circle of friends, family members, and business colleagues if they have hired an attorney after being arrested for driving while intoxicated. If they have, you'll want to know what they thought of their attorneys. Did they fight hard for their clients? What were their strengths? And their weaknesses? Would they hire the attorneys again if needed?
If you're hesitant to discuss your arrest with people you know, you have another resource right here. Whether you are in Trenton or Newark or any other part of the state, Attorneys.com offers a service that can connect you with a New Jersey DUI DWI attorney near you.
Call us 1-877-913-7222 or fill out the short form on this web site. After answering a few questions, we'll forward the name and contact information for at least one New Jersey DUI DWI lawyer near you.
Feel free to contact the lawyer directly, or he or she will follow up with you within two business days.
Preparing to Meet with a New Jersey DUI DWI Attorney
Now that you have a name or two of a New Jersey DWI lawyer, you should interview the attorney. Most DUI DWI lawyers in New Jersey are willing to chat with prospective clients briefly.
You can accomplish several important goals at this meeting. You can discuss your options and strategy for dealing with your charges. You can learn about the attorney's background and experience. And, most importantly, you can determine whether this is the attorney you want to hire.
But there are several steps you should take before arriving for your first meeting. You need to:
- Define what it is you want in a New Jersey DUI DWI lawyer
- Write down some questions to ask
- Gather together documents the lawyers will find useful
If you can first define what it is you want in an attorney, you are more likely to recognize the right one when you meet him or her. You probably want an attorney who:
Based on these ideal qualities, write out your questions for the New Jersey DUI lawyers. Make sure you bring the list with you, along with some writing material to record the answers.
The lawyers will also find it helpful if you bring certain documents with you, such as:
- Your bail papers
- Any paperwork from the court indicating the charges against you and your next court appearance
- The police report, if possible
- Any other paperwork the police gave you, such as an search inventory list
Some New Jersey DUI DWI attorneys may want you to fill out a questionnaire before the meeting. The answers will help the lawyers to familiarize themselves with the circumstances of your arrest. If you receive one, make sure you complete it and send it in ahead of the meeting to make the most of your brief time.
Meeting with New Jersey DWI Lawyers
When you arrive at your first meeting, let the lawyer lead the conversation. Some New Jersey DUI DWI lawyers prefer to understand the case from the prosecutor's perspective before getting into your version of events. Listen carefully to the questions, so you can answer them precisely.
Do not withhold any information from the lawyers you meet. Strict confidentiality rules prevent all DUI DWI attorneys in New Jersey from repeating anything they hear at a first meeting. Even if you end up hiring someone else, none of the attorneys you meet with to discuss your DUI charges will repeat anything you say.
Once the lawyer has run through his or her questions, it's your turn to conduct the interview. Refer to your list. While the attorneys are answering, notice if they seem patient with your questions. Do they take the time to explain new terms? What do you think of the advice and strategy they propose?
If you have any special requests of a lawyer, raise them at a first meeting. For example, you may need weekend appointments or communication in Spanish. You want to know from the outset if the lawyers can accommodate you.
Selecting a New Jersey DUI DWI Lawyer
After you have interviewed everyone on your list, it's time to choose one to represent you. Go back to the list of qualities you defined above as being most important. Which attorney most closely matched the ideal? Find out by asking yourself:
- Which attorney has the most experience representing clients facing charges similar to my own?
- Which attorney seemed best connected to courthouse personnel, including the prosecutor's office?
- Whose strategy did I like best?
- Which attorneys had reasonable legal fees?
- With which attorney was I most comfortable?
If you only met with one, but he or she was a strong candidate, then your search is over. However, if you can't decide between several lawyers, ask for the names and contact information of some former clients.
Call the clients to get some first-hand feedback about what it was like working with the attorneys. What did they think of the experience? Did reality match the expectations? Would they hire the attorney again if needed?
The former clients' input should help you narrow your choices to the very best New Jersey DUI DWI lawyer for you. After you hire the lawyer, you are ready to face the rest of the criminal justice process.