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Choosing Criminal Defense Counsel

Choosing criminal defense counsel can be a difficult task. And often there is not much time to make the choice. Lawyers who quote low fees or advertize on TV in order to generate a high volume of clients may not have the experience or skill or the time your case requires. Nor are the best lawyers necessarily the ones charging the highest fees. Those who promise spectacular results or bad-mouth other lawyers should be avoided. Although we are frequently interviewed by the news media concerning our cases and other cases, lawyers whose names are familiar because they are quoted in the newspapers or appear on television or radio are not necessarily the most qualified, however entertaining they might be.

One problem is the false belief by many persons accused of some offenses that their case is a "simple case" not requiring superior counsel. Sometimes that is true. However, seemingly small differences in the way any criminal case is handled at the outset can substantially alter the outcome, or the effect of any conviction or sentence in the future, when it will be too late to reconsider what lawyer to choose.

The worst problem is the accused who believes that they do not need a real criminal defense lawyer because they are innocent. Unfortunately, innocent people get convicted at an alarming rate, and often this has a lot to do with representation by less able counsel. Making innocence matter is not a simple task.

Finally, it is completely mistaken think that an accused person or his family can "economize" on what is spent for defense of a criminal case, because if the outcome is not happy, they can get matters corrected on appeal. Appeals are not only as expensive - if not more expensive - than trials: they only rarely succeed in completely undoing a conviction.

There are a wide variety of listing services on the Web which help attorneys promote their services as criminal defense lawyers. The consumer has to be aware that the attorneys most prominently listed are just the ones who paid more money to the service, or for positioning their advertisement, or who signed up first. Being listed has nothing to do with who are the best qualified.

A more useful and generally-accepted service is Martindale-Hubbell which is a "peer-review" listing. That is, it relies on periodic evaluations of an attorney by other lawyers in the community. Go to Or to access this service. Additionally, someone looking for a qualified criminal defense lawyer should be looking for an attorney who is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers NACDL or one of its affiliates, such as the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The NACDL Member Directory can be searched on the Web.

However, one of the best approaches is to contact several lawyer in the community who do not devote their time to criminal defense to have them recommend names of those who they regard as the best criminal defense lawyers in your area for your kind of case.

If you feel that Harrington & Mahoney may be helpful to you in selecting an attorney, please call us. It is rarely true in any area that it can be said that a particular lawyer or law firm is "the best." But it can be that you can find the best lawyer for your case.

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Autism Criminal Justice