3 Ways You Can Help Yourself in Your Upcoming Divorce Hearing

Whether you have an attorney or are representing yourself, you want to be prepared to have the best possible outcome in any divorce hearing.  This article will discuss three steps that are always important in preparing for any court appearance:

1. Know Your Goal.   You need to understand what the purpose of the hearing is and clearly identify your goal for the proceeding. Emotions often run strong during a divorce, and sadness and anger are almost inevitably going to occupy the minds of both parties and take your focus away from getting what you want. To achieve a successful outcome, you need to think through your strategy:  

  • What options are likely to be an outcome of this hearing?
  • How does this hearing play into your overall strategy for getting what you want in the divorce?
  • What would a third party consider fair?

If you have a good idea of what will be accomplished in this hearing, then you can do your part to keep on track and laser focused to achieving your ends.

2. Get Organized.  Your anxiety will be less if you know when and where you need to be in court and what will happen.  Leave plenty of time to get there.  Arrange for child care in advance if you have children. If your attorney has requested any documents, get them to him or her well in advance of the hearing date.  If you are representing yourself, make sure you have identified what you need and bring several copies of each document. Here’s a short checklist:

 3. Look and Behave Professionally.  Impressions are very important, and even if you are represented by counsel, you want to look and act professionally. The judge and/or staff will make unconscious judgments of your clothing, appearance and demeanor. Wear attire that would be presentable for a business or business casual setting and something you feel comfortable in. Be wary of showing any hostile gestures: speak calmly and avoid glaring or sarcastic looks.  

Knowing your goal, getting organized and looking and behaving professionally are simple tips that are easy to implement, but they will help you succeed in having a great outcome at your hearing.  

 

5 Things Most People Do Wrong When Selecting an Attorney

You know that your decision about legal representation is very important not only for the outcome of your case, but for your emotional and mental well-being in the process.  In your quest to find the best person for the best price, make sure that you don’t fall into these 5 pitfalls of mistakes people often make when selecting an attorney:

 

  • Not asking Enough Questions

 

People often fall into one of two categories:  Either they are a little intimidated by the legal system and afraid to ask questions, or they want to appear confident and knowledgeable, and so they don’t reach out with questions.  Don’t fall into this trap.  You need to ask questions, take notes, and make sure you understand every aspect of your legal representation.  Remember to ask:

  • Who will be handling my case?
    • The partner or an associate?
  • What experience does this attorney have in this particular case?
  • Would you consider it a complex or simple case?
  • How will I be billed?
  • Can you estimate the cost of this matter?
  • What is the most effective and cost efficient way to communicate with my attorney?
    • Phone calls, emails, coordinating with staff?
  • What evidence will need to be preserved and how should I preserve it?  

 

 

  • Failing to Examine Other Clients’ Results

 

Each case is unique, and a good outcome for another client doesn’t necessarily guarantee a great outcome for you because the facts and circumstances are different.  However, it is important to see what results other clients had to give you an idea of the level of experience an attorney has, and how satisfied other clients were with the representation.  A great firm will often post these results on their own website.  (See for example, http://www.davidknechtlaw.com/results/).  

  1. Not researching the practice areas of the potential attorney.  

In medicine, people are generally aware that you should find the right specialist – for example, you wouldn’t go to a podiatrist for brain surgery. You should certainly consider the practice areas of the attorneys you are considering.  Many attorneys will list their practice areas on their website.  (See for example, http://www.davidknechtlaw.com/practice-areas/).  If an attorney doesn’t list practice areas, you should ask how many cases of your type that attorney has handled.  You should be wary of attorney who is reluctant to identify practice areas because their reluctance may indicate a lack of experience in any one area.

  1. Skipping over the references.

It is surprising how many people hire an attorney without checking references.  You can use social media to crowd source the answer.  Some people post on Facebook asking for recommendations.  Others contact friends directly who have faced similar legal issues for advice.  If you are reluctant to make your search for an attorney public, another good sources of reference is the attorney himself/herself.  You can check the website.  (See for example, http://www.davidknechtlaw.com/testimonials/).  You can also ask the attorney if they would feel comfortable having you talk to a previous client.  Do your homework, and don’t forget references.

 

  • Choosing based only on cost.

 

While cost is a factor in your decision-making process, it should not be the only factor.  Some people are tempted to go with the cheapest attorney, only to find out that the bill adds up.  Others go with the most expensive attorney, assuming that cost correlates with successful outcomes.  The reality is that cost should be a consideration, but the attorney’s reputation, references, and experience should all weigh into your final determination as to who is best for you.

 

Looking for the Right Vacaville Attorney?  3 Reasons to Give Us a Call

At the Law Offices of David W. Knecht, we focus our practice on Family Law (including Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support), Criminal Law (including Juvenile Court, DUI), and Estate Planning (including Wills, Living Trusts, Durable Powers of Attorney, and Advance Health Care Directives).  Why choose us for your most important legal needs?

1. Your family is important to us. Born and raised in California, David. W. Knecht has been serving and protecting Californian’s for over thirty years. He is invested in the community and cares about each individual client. You will not be lost in the hands of a brand new associate or paralegal staff. You can expect a meeting with an experienced attorney personally to discuss the possible outcomes of your case. In developing legal strategy, we are mindful of offering cost-effective legal solutions. We maintain close communication with clients concerning legal expensive and counsel clients on less costly alternative means. Our mission is clear:  fight for you, be available to you, seek the most efficient course of action, and serve you.                                                                                                                              

2. We know the system. Mr. Knecht has a background that gives him unique insight into the legal system.  

  • We know the law enforcement system:  Mr. Knecht worked as a police officer and detective for the cities of Fullerton, Santa Rosa and Vacaville for 13 years.  
  • We know the judicial system: While still in law school, Mr. Knecht worked as a law clerk for attorney Robert C. Fracchia in Vacaville and attorney Daniel J. Healy in Vallejo. Both Judge Fracchia and Judge Healy are now sitting judges in the Solano County Superior Court. After graduating from law school and passing the bar exam, Mr. Knecht worked for attorney E. Bradley Nelson in Vacaville. Judge Nelson is now a sitting judge in the Solano County Superior Court.
  • We know the legal system. Mr. Knecht has been in practice for over 10 years, and has represented thousands of clients in estate planning, family law, trust and will litigation, criminal defense, restraining orders, and other matters since opening his own office in Vacaville, California in 2007.

3. Experience matters.  You’ll want an attorney who has the experience to answer your questions and guide you to a favorable outcome:

  • Family Law. We understand the stress that family law matters can place on your loved ones and finances. We conduct ourselves professionally to minimize conflict, we seek solutions that are in the best interest of the children, and we help our clients set appropriate but firm boundaries. We remain focused on practical matters and advise you based on our experience of helping hundreds of other families.
  • Criminal Law. Mr. Knecht defends juveniles and adults accused in the Solano County, Napa County, and Yolo County Superior Courts of all felony, misdemeanor, DUI and other criminal offenses. He has represented over 400 criminal defendants in the last three years alone. He has an excellent record of success and is focused on getting the results you need. You can depend on him to fight for you every step of the way.
  • Estate Planning. We understand that you’ve worked a lifetime to acquire wealth and protecting and preserving your assets is important for you and your family. Mr. Knecht helps trustees and executors administer trusts and probates, and he will spend time with you explaining the process and tasks involved in successfully administering a trust or probate estate. For wills and revocable trusts, Mr. Knecht will meet with you to discuss your situation and whether or not a revocable or living trust is right for you to achieve goals including probate avoidance, federal estate tax minimization, and greater flexibility in creating distribution plans for specific beneficiaries.   

Give us a call today to find out how we can help you with your divorce, DUI, estate planning, or other legal needs.  We will listen to you, answer your questions, and provide high quality, experienced representation for your case.

 

5 Telltale Signs You Need A New Lawyer

A great attorney can make all the difference in your case, but a bad one can ruin you.   If you keep your eyes peeled to your attorney’s behavior and work, you will know quickly whether you have found someone amazing to represent you or whether you are stuck with a lemon of an attorney.  Watch for these 5 telltale signs, and if you see any of these exhibited, you’ll know you need to find a new attorney.   

  1. Misses Hearings or Is Tardy.  If your attorney is late for court appearances or misses them altogether, his or her behavior is not only unprofessional, but could likely impact your case.  One of your attorney’s main responsibilities is to calendar the dates, keep track of deadlines, file documents on time, and be in court punctually to represent you.  Failure on your attorney’s part to follow through may be grounds for a Bar Complaint, but at the very least, you should look for someone more dependable.
  2. Treats You With Disrespect.  Your attorney will hopefully be very knowledgeable and experiences, and you should give him or her your respect.  However, your counsel should also treat you with courtesy and professionalism.  If your attorney ever calls you names, dismisses your input, or makes you feel badly about yourself, you should look into hiring someone new.
  3. Offends the Judge or Court Staff.  If you notice that the judge or the judge’s staff is bristling at your attorney’s demeanor or if it is obvious that the judge just doesn’t like your attorney, you may want to find someone with better people skills. The judge’s perspective on your attorney may influence his or her decision on your case.  You may think that the way your attorney treats the staff is not important, but often the staff will tattle to the judge behind closed doors if your attorney acts out of line with them.  You want an attorney who is aggressive enough to go to bat for you, but not one who burns bridges with those who decide your fate.
  4. Ignores Your Phone Calls or Fails to Answer Emails.  A common complaint among clients is that that their attorney either fails to respond via phone or writing to their inquiries.  If you have questions that are going unanswered or important communications that your attorney is ignoring, you may want to look elsewhere.  Failure to give you attention can be for many reasons, from too large a client load to just general disinterest.  Whatever the reason, the result is that the proper communication channels have broken down, which gives you grounds to find someone who is a more effective communicator.
  5. Is Out of His/Her League.  Some cases require more sophistication than others.  A felony is often more difficult to defend than a misdemeanor.  Some divorce cases are more complex or involve more assets than others.  If your attorney tells you he or she is not experienced enough or does not have time for a case of your complexity, then you should find someone with the requisite experience.  If you can see from your counsel’s representation of you that he or she is really in too deep of water, you should find someone else.  Your liberty, money, assets, children, or whatever the case is about is your first priority, and you should not be concerned with firing an attorney who isn’t the best for you and your case.

10 Essentials to Make Sure You Come Out on Top In Your Divorce Hearin

In a divorce case, the hearings can vary, but the principles outlined below will help you come out on top regardless of the type of hearing you will be participating in.

  1. Know the Type of Hearing.  The most important step in preparing for a successful hearing is asking your attorney to explain to you the type of hearing that you will have and what will be expected from you.  For example, and initial calendar call and meet and confer may be fairly simple.  Further down the line, if you end up in a trial, you may need significant preparation.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to know before you go whether your attorney plans to have you testify, and if so, what topics will be covered.  Preparation is the most important key to success.
  2. Be On Time.  Being on time seems like a simple plan, but it is surprising how many people struggle with being on time to a court hearing.  You need to plan extra time for traffic, finding your way, and parking.  You do not want to be rushed.  In many courtrooms, you will need to leave your cell phone and any other electronic devices in the car.  If you want to bring those items in, plan extra time, in case you are told no, and sent back to your car.
  3. Look Professional.  Your appearance is the first impression any attorney or judge will get from you, so make sure that you are clean, neat, and professional.
  4. Be Organized.  If your attorney hasn’t already collected the relevant documents from you and has requested that you bring certain documentation to court, then it’s imperative that you remember to bring it.  Make extra copies so that you have enough to share.  Have them organized so that you can easily find what you are looking for.
  5. Don’t Expect to Be the Only Case.  Some parties are disappointed to find out that they aren’t the only case of the day.  There are often many cases on the docket, and you likely won’t have a choice about when yours is heard.  When you know what to expect, you can come with the patience to approach your hearing in a calm and collected manner.  A cool demeanor will present you and your case in the best light.
  6. Know Your Facts.  You need to read and understand everything that has happened, everything that has been filed on your behalf, and everything that your attorney may want you to testify about.  You are the expert on your own case and you can leverage that expertise to assist your attorney in representing you well.
  7. Know and Understand Everything Your Spouse’s Attorney has Filed. In addition to knowing your own facts, you need to know where and how your spouse’s story differs from yours.  Understanding his or her arguments will help you and your attorney to work together to show why your version of the facts is correct.
  8. Tell the Truth.  If you are telling a story at the dinner table, a little embellishment might make the tale better.  In court, stick with the cold, hard truth. It is difficult for the other side to poke holes in the truth.  If you exaggerate or outright lie, you expose yourself to impeachment, which will only reflect poorly on you and your case.
  9. Be Reasonable.  Divorce cases can be highly emotional because they involve finances and children, broken promises and shattered dreams.  Remember that your divorce hearing isn’t therapy.  You are here to get the best outcome.  Consider ahead of time what an acceptable settlement would be and discuss that with your attorney.  Try to think ahead about what your ex-spouse’s sticking points will be and strategize with your counsel on how to overcome his or her objections. Although challenging, try to think of the hearing as a business negotiation rather than a war with your ex.
  10. Prepare with Intellect not Emotion.  Use your head and not your heart in a divorce hearing.  Understand and anticipate the type of hearing it will be and cater your arguments to the type that will be well-received by the court.  For example:
    • Child custody – In a child custody case, the focus will be on the health, education, safety, general welfare of the child.  Any argument or testimony should be focused on the best interest of the child, and anything that appears revenge-motivated or manipulative will only reflect poorly on the party presenting it.
    • Temp child support or spousal support – In a temp child support or spousal support where the worker is an employee, this will typically be decided by a mathematical formula, but if self-employment or fluctuating income are involved, this may require more preparation to present to the Court what appropriate spousal support should be.

If you follow the advice in this article, you will likely be well-prepared for a successful hearing.  The most important tip, though, is to thoroughly consult with your attorney so that he or she can guide you in the specifics of your case.

How To Win Your DUI Case

When preparing to fight a DUI charge, remember that you are presumed innocent and you have a right to question any evidence, testimony, test results, or assumptions that is presented by the prosecution against you.  This article will address some of the areas of the prosecution’s case against you that may be susceptible to attach.  This isn’t an all-inclusive list, but it will give you a good start in developing a strategy to identify reasonable doubt and win your DUI case.

  1. The Stop.  In order to pull you over, and officer must have reasonable suspicion that you are violating the law.  If the officer pulls you over based on your race or just a “hunch,” then you can file a Motion to Suppress.  In a nutshell, a Motion to Suppress is where you argue that the stop itself violated your Constitutional rights, and therefore the evidence against you should be thrown out.  Police officers are trained to document facts that lead to reasonable suspicion in their reports, so a Motion to Suppress is often an uphill battle, but sometimes officers make mistakes.  It’s worth looking at the stop because if you win on the Motion, that typically means victory on the whole DUI case.
  1. Challenge the BAC.  If your breath or blood tests show a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, you will need to find a way to call into question the results of these tests.
  • Rising Blood Alcohol Defense – The key point here is that the .08 level has to be at the time you were driving.  The theory of this defense is that alcohol takes time to absorb into the blood stream.  The results of a breath or blood test could be higher during the test than during the operation of the vehicle, based on a variety of factors:
    • How much food has the person eaten?  (Food tends to slow down absorption)
    • Is the driver male or female? (A woman’s BAC may rise higher than a man’s)
  • Medical Problem Defense.  The key point here is whether you have a medical problem that would render the results inaccurate.
  • Do you have a medical condition such as asthma or emphysema that affects your lung capacity and ability to blow into a machine?
  • Question the reliability of the testing procedures.
  • Was the testing device calibrated and tested?
  • Was the person giving the test trained on the device?
  • How many times did you “blow” and were the results consistent or varied from each other?
  • Were you observed prior to the DUI?
  • Eating, drinking, smoking, vomiting, burping, etc. can all impact test results.

 

  1. Fight the Officer’s Observations and Field Sobriety Tests.
  • Speech impediment or Injury.  Do you have a speech impediment or other condition that could account for an officer’s observation of slurred speech?  Do you have a health condition that would prevent you from understanding or complying with the tests?
  • Weather conditions.  Was there wind, rain, snow, etc. that could have affected your ability to hear the officer’s instructions and comply with them?
  • Look at the National Highway Traffic Administration’s procedures to see whether the tests were administered properly.  If the officer did not properly conduct the tests, or if correct instructions were not given, then you can question the reliability of the conclusions drawn from the tests.

Your defense will be as specific as your facts, as each DUI case is unique, but this guide will assist you in finding and taking advantage of the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you.

Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?

If you are facing criminal charges, you may be looking at your bills and wondering if you can afford an attorney or if it’s worth hiring one.  A criminal conviction can come with a heavy financial impact, which can include fines imposed by the court, fees for counseling or treatment, the burden of lost wages if jail time is involved, and higher auto insurance costs if the offense was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  This article cites studies and surveys for the proposition that

  • Attorney vs. Self-Representation – In a famous case, Gideon v. Wainwright, Justice Black reasoned:  “fair trials before impartial tribunals  in which ever defendant stands equal before the law . . . cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him.”  This quote emphasizes the importance of an attorney in a criminal case.

 

Survey Responses Show Better Outcomes with an Attorney than Pro Se

  • Respondents in a survey published at the site below indicated a high DUI conviction rate for defendants who represented themselves.  See  http://criminal.lawyers.com/dui-dwi/does-using-a-dui-lawyer-give-you-a-better-outcome.html
  • Private Attorneys vs. Public Defenders – If you at an income level to qualify for a public defender, but you have family or others who are willing to contribute to you defense, you may be wondering if a private attorney would be more effective in representing you.  According to at least a few studies, the answer to that question is yes, private attorneys — statistically speaking – obtain much better outcomes for their clients than public defenders.

 

Studies Show Better Outcomes with Private Attorneys

  • Results indicate that defendants with public defenders are more likely to be detained pretrial, more likely to be convicted, and less likely to have their cases dismissed.”

(Excerpt from a study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice, a summary of which can be found here, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047235213000366)

  • …studies suggest that having appointed counsel negatively affects case outcomes, such as conviction and sentencing, in that those with appointed counsel are more likely to be convicted and/or sentenced to longer incarceration terms.”

(Excerpt from a study about the effect of attorney type on bail hearings, which can be found at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0887403414562603)

  • Other Considerations –There are many other considerations that you will need to weigh to decide whether to hire an attorney, whether to request a public defender, or whether to represent yourself.  A safe approach to take is to at least consult with an attorney initially, and then to decide the best course of action from there.  Some factors you might consider include:

 

  • How serious is the offense?
  • Am I innocent?
  • Would I prefer to go to trial, or would I be more comfortable with a plea deal?
  • What will be the financial burden of a guilty plea or conviction?
  • What resources, side income, or family to help defray the cost of an attorney?

The decision about whether to seek representation is a very important one, and your selection of an attorney is also critical to your success, and this resource can help you think through some of the initial steps of preparing your criminal defense.

Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?

If you are facing criminal charges, you may be looking at your bills and wondering if you can afford an attorney or if it’s worth hiring one.  A criminal conviction can come with a heavy financial impact, which can include fines imposed by the court, fees for counseling or treatment, the burden of lost wages if jail time is involved, and higher auto insurance costs if the offense was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  This article cites studies and surveys for the proposition that

  • Attorney vs. Self-Representation – In a famous case, Gideon v. Wainwright, Justice Black reasoned:  “fair trials before impartial tribunals  in which ever defendant stands equal before the law . . . cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him.”  This quote emphasizes the importance of an attorney in a criminal case.

Survey Responses Show Better Outcomes with an Attorney than Pro Se

  • Respondents in a survey published at the site below indicated a high DUI conviction rate for defendants who represented themselves.  See  http://criminal.lawyers.com/dui-dwi/does-using-a-dui-lawyer-give-you-a-better-outcome.html
  • Private Attorneys vs. Public Defenders – If you at an income level to qualify for a public defender, but you have family or others who are willing to contribute to you defense, you may be wondering if a private attorney would be more effective in representing you.  According to at least a few studies, the answer to that question is yes, private attorneys — statistically speaking – obtain much better outcomes for their clients than public defenders.  

Studies Show Better Outcomes with Private Attorneys

  • Results indicate that defendants with public defenders are more likely to be detained pretrial, more likely to be convicted, and less likely to have their cases dismissed.”  

(Excerpt from a study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice, a summary of which can be found here, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047235213000366)

  • …studies suggest that having appointed counsel negatively affects case outcomes, such as conviction and sentencing, in that those with appointed counsel are more likely to be convicted and/or sentenced to longer incarceration terms.”

(Excerpt from a study about the effect of attorney type on bail hearings, which can be found at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0887403414562603)

  • Other Considerations –There are many other considerations that you will need to weigh to decide whether to hire an attorney, whether to request a public defender, or whether to represent yourself.  A safe approach to take is to at least consult with an attorney initially, and then to decide the best course of action from there.  Some factors you might consider include:
  • How serious is the offense?
  • Am I innocent?
  • Would I prefer to go to trial, or would I be more comfortable with a plea deal?
  • What will be the financial burden of a guilty plea or conviction?
  • What resources, side income, or family to help defray the cost of an attorney?

The decision about whether to seek representation is a very important one, and your selection of an attorney is also critical to your success, and this resource can help you think through some of the initial steps of preparing your criminal defense.

 

Identifying high-end and low-end products is easy, but how do you separate a good attorney from one that isn’t as skilled?  How do you find someone excellent, when you aren’t familiar with the legal system?  Even though you likely haven’t had a chance to observe your potential attorney in a courtroom or in a negotiation, you can look for personal qualities and ask candidates you are considering about their expertise in these areas:  

 

  • Connections

 

Connections are extremely important, and you can ask your attorney about his or her professional contacts.  For example, if you case is criminal, you may benefit from an attorney who knows the prosecutor and who has appeared in front of your judge before.  Although those connections may not directly impact the outcome, as both prosecutor and judge are under obligation to be impartial, a personal relationship and experience with those people can help your attorney know the best approach and arguments to make to be compelling to those individuals.  Similarly, in a civil case, your attorney may be able to negotiate more effectively for you if he or she has a good professional relationship with the attorney on the other side.

 

  • Experience

 

With the exception of patent law, attorneys don’t get a license to practice in a specific area.  Their state license entitles them to practice any type of law.  Because they aren’t segregated into specialties by licensure, the differentiator between different types of attorneys when it comes to specialties is experience. An attorney who is fresh out of law school may have a lot of enthusiasm, but often you will be better served by someone who has practiced for many years.  You can’t underestimate the knowledge that can only be derived from years of doing something.

 

  • Research Abilities

 

Research skills are a hallmark of great attorneys.  Find someone who exhibits a genuine interest in all the aspects of your case.  You need someone who will listen and take careful notes as you explain the facts.  A good attorney will look to all the sources of information, whether that includes other witnesses, documents, emails, etc.  You will want someone who will have the tools and know-how to research any legal questions.  Most of all, you’ll want someone who can listen carefully and ask the right questions to fully vet your case.

 

  • Organizational Skills

 

You may be surprised to discover that organization skills are one of the most important attributes for an attorney to have, but planning and calendaring are actually essential.  Courts have specific hearing dates and deadlines which must be observed, so you will want someone who has a system to keep track of these dates and who will not procrastinate working on meeting those deadlines.  Some attorneys will request information from their clients at the last minute, which can be problematic.  In some cases, you will be providing your attorney with a variety of types of information and documents, and you need an attorney who is capable of organizing this disparate information into a cohesive defense.

 

  • Communication

 

An excellent attorney will be a great communicator.  He or she will be your mouthpiece to a judge, jury, or opposing party.  Your attorney will be the one to help create and tell your story.  You need someone who not only represents you well to others, but who also takes the time to communicate with you as often and as needed.  A common problem that crops up between attorneys and their clients is a breakdown in communication, so make sure you and your attorney speak up front about expectations on both sides for calls and emails and also the cost that will be anticipated with that level of communication.

If you look for an attorney with connections, experience, research abilities, organizational skills, and communication talents, you will likely be in good hands.

http://www.davidknechtlaw.com/775-2/

Three Lies Bad Attorneys Tell Their Clients

Your decision about who will represent you is one of the most important choices you will make for either a civil or a criminal case.  As you evaluate who will be the best attorney for you, you’ll likely consider important factors, such as each attorney’s reputation and experience as well recommendations from friends.  You will want to be sure when you consult as you weigh your options, and meet with potential counsel, you watch out for these misconceptions:

  1. False:  The truth doesn’t matter.

In some cases, a defendant may not choose to testify, but that doesn’t mean that the truth doesn’t matter.  What really happened is often essential information for your attorney to know in your case, particularly if you are facing criminal charges.  Often the best way for your attorney to assist you is for you to be forthcoming with him or her about  everything that was said and done not just on the day in question, but also leading up to and after the event that is in issue.  With that knowledge, you attorney can more effectively prepare your case strategy and anticipate the actions of the opposing party.

  1. False: You don’t need to make decisions about your case.

Your attorney’s role is to guide, assist, educate, defend and help you, but the role of the attorney is not necessarily to make all the decisions for you.  You will initially know the facts better than anyone, because you experienced them first hand.  You will ultimately be the person to pay the price of any result, whether that relates to your finances or your freedom. You should certainly listen to everything your attorney tells you with careful consideration, but don’t be afraid to ask a question or share an opinion.  A good attorney will be willing to help you weigh all the options and will let you make the best decision for you.

  1. False:  You should be as unfair and uncooperative as possible with your opponent.

There are times to fight, there are times to negotiate, and there are times to cooperate. The best attorneys utilize all the tools at their disposal, and will advise you on the best tactic to achieve your desired outcome.  Don’t just assume that an aggressive approach from your counsel is always the best approach.  Avoid attorneys who only know how to fight.  A skillful negotiator can be a very powerful advocate for you, so don’t buy into the common misperception that an attorney’s only role is to fight hard for you.   

You have many good options to choose from when it comes to finding an attorney, but with these tips you will have extra tools to sort the good from the bad and make a great choice.