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Things to Consider if You Need an Elder Law Attorney

As we age, we often find ourselves facing new and more complex issues than when we were younger: estate planning, disability, health care, retirement, taxes, and financial planning issues may arise in the senior years. Planning for the senior years can be confusing and difficult without the correct information, and simple situations can rapidly turn into complicated and expensive challenges without good advice.5 Smart Tips for Hiring an Elder Law Attorney – DailyCaring

It is important to know your rights and seek counseling and advice when needed. When dealing with legal issues that pertain to the elderly, you may consider seeking guidance from a lawyer who is certified in elder law.

What do elder law attorneys do?

Elder law attorneys are advocates for the elderly and their loved ones. Most elder law attorneys handle a wide range of legal matters affecting an older or disabled person, including issues related to health care, long-term care planning, guardianship, retirement, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and other important matters. They help by:

  • Evaluating the client’s needs relating to federal tax, social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and property laws
  • Preparing trusts and wills
  • Determining the best way to pay for long-term health care including private duty home care
  • Assisting with disability planning, including use of durable powers of attorney, living trusts, and living wills for financial management and health care decisions
  • Setting up conservatorships and guardianships
  • Offering counseling on the distribution of public and private retirement benefits, survivor benefits, and pension benefits
  • Assisting the client and their family make emotionally difficult decisions, such as those related to end-of-life

Most elder law attorneys do not specialize in every one of these areas, so it’s important to find out which of these matters they are equipped to handle. You will want to hire an attorney who has experience in and knowledge of your specific area of concern, yet who also knows enough about the other fields to question whether the action being taken might be affected by laws in any of the other areas of law. For example, if you are going to rewrite your will and your spouse is ill, the attorney needs to know enough about Medicaid to know whether it is an issue with regard to your spouse’s inheritance. The Medicaid and Medicare systems are complex and evolving, so your attorney should have an in-depth understanding of the system’s federal laws as well as those of your state.Things to Consider if You Need an Elder Law Attorney

How do you find an elder law attorney?

If you’d like to find an elder law attorney, you can check with the National Academy of Elder law Attorneys, Inc., or NAELA.  It is as a professional association of attorneys who are dedicated to improving the quality of legal services provided to people as they age and people with special needs. Another such organization is the Special Needs Alliance.

Due to elder laws, many state and local agencies receive grants to offer services such as support groups and counseling. If you don’t feel it’s necessary or affordable to hire a lawyer, these organizations can usually advise on elder law topics and suggest services that may be helpful. You can also check with your town’s senior services or the Internet for local and state agencies that may be able to help you.

January 12, 2022 /
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Tips to Help You Find the Best Criminal Defense Attorney

Meeting with Criminal Defense Attorney

If you already understand the importance of having an excellent attorney when you’re facing a criminal charge, the next step is finding the best criminal defense attorney to represent you. Not all lawyers are created the same, and finding the right attorney can make all the difference when it comes to putting up the best defense possible.

Taking the time to seek out the best defense attorney can ensure you are represented in the best light possible when you go to court. Although the process of searching for a lawyer can seem daunting, especially when dealing with the repercussions of a criminal charge, this is arguably one of the most important steps of the entire case. Here are ten tips to help you find the best Las Vegas criminal defense attorney.

1. An Attorney Should Be Responsive

When you’re facing a criminal charge, time is of the essence. Time lost is a case lost. You need a criminal defense attorney that’s going to get to work on the case right away.

When you contact a lawyer, they should respond quickly. Their legal team should be able to arrange a meeting with you within one day. If they’re quick to answer your phone call or email, they’re probably going to be equally on the ball when it comes to defending you.

2. The Right Attorney Specializes in Criminal Law

Although they don’t have to practice criminal law exclusively, the right attorney at least specializes in criminal law. If you don’t see anything on the attorney’s website about criminal law, it’s likely that they’re not the right lawyer for your needs.

The practice of law is just that — practice. Your attorney needs regular involvement in criminal law to stay up to date on the nuances of this type of law and the best possible defenses.

3. Choose Someone Experienced in the Local Courts

In addition to finding a lawyer that’s qualified in criminal law, you should look for an attorney that’s experienced in the local courts. This aspect of deciding on the right attorney is one that is often overlooked, but local connections and relationships can go a long way when fighting a criminal charge.

Not only does each court do things their own way, but each judge does things their own way too. Knowing the ins and outs of the court you’re up against can help you create a winning strategy for your case.

4. Check Reputable Sources

You can learn a lot about an attorney on the internet. Some of these sources are reputable, and some are not. You can check the State Bar of Nevada to see if a lawyer has any formal discipline on their record. This is a good place to start, but your research shouldn’t stop there.

Some websites like Google+ and Facebook don’t let attorneys remove bad reviews, so these websites can be a good place to look at what other clients have to say. Other sites help attorneys paint a rosy picture. While you don’t want to count an attorney out because of one bad review, reading reviews can give you a general idea of what other clients have to say about them and their services.

5. Ask for Referrals

One of the best ways to find the right attorney for you is to ask your friends and family if they know any good lawyers. Those with first-hand knowledge of how an attorney operates can help offer you insight into how they will handle your case.

Also, if you use a lawyer for business or estate planning matters, you can ask them who they recommend for a criminal case. Word of mouth can be a great way to get an honest opinion especially when the person you’re asking wants what’s best for you.

6. The Right Attorney Knows the Basics Off the Top of Their Head

An attorney doesn’t have to know everything without having to look things up, but they should know the basics of the most common crimes. They should be able to explain to you the possible and likely penalties for the charges against you.

They should know the questions to ask you to determine if nuances apply to the case. The best criminal defense attorney has a certain level of familiarity and comfort with the laws and the criminal justice system.

7. Look for a Clear Fee Structure

The best defense attorney doesn’t want confusion about their bill. Instead, they’re going to explain in simple terms how they bill and give you an idea of what you can expect regarding their fees for services and the total cost of your defense.

Understanding Criminal Defense Attorney Fees

The least expensive lawyer isn’t always best. Instead, you should ask what their services include and make sure that your attorney is up for mounting a vigorous defense.

8. Gauge Their Enthusiasm

Some attorneys work harder than others. You will want a lawyer that conducts a thorough investigation. They should go to trial when it’s best to go to trial, and they should encourage you to accept a plea offer only when it’s really in your best interest. When it’s time to decide whether to go to trial or accept a plea, the right attorney can articulate what choice they feel is in your best interest and why.

The way to find this attorney is to look for enthusiasm. While your attorney should be experienced, the number of years of experience isn’t everything. The right attorney has a certain level of sincere interest in their work, and they must be eager to dive into your case on your behalf.

9. They Have Courtroom Confidence

One type of experience that matters is courtroom experience. Criminal trials move fast. Sometimes, your attorney has mere seconds to make an objection that could impact the outcome of the case. Make sure your attorney has enough experience to know the court rules and have confidence and comfort in a court hearing.

In this regard, you can judge a book by its cover. If an attorney has a neat appearance and is well-spoken when you meet with them, they’re likely to be the same way in court. The attorney you choose speaks on your behalf. When you meet, you should like the way they present themselves, because they’re going to be speaking for you.

10. They Take Direction From You

Ultimately, your criminal charge is yours to defend. Your attorney should control the specific methods of mounting your defense like filing court motions and what witnesses to call, but the big decisions are up to you.

It’s up to you to decide if you plead guilty or go to trial. Your attorney should take the time to understand your goals and priorities and take them into account when they’re helping you make your action plan.

Trust Your Instincts

6 Qualities Of A Good Criminal Defense Lawyer | Attorney at Law Magazine

With so much on the line, it’s worth the time and effort to find the right Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer for you. You can do a lot of the research online, but you need to meet with them in person too. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Even though it’s important to take the time to find the right lawyer, it’s also important to work quickly to protect your interests.

December 20, 2021 /
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Tips to Improve Law Firm Client Relationships

78 percent of lawyers say that acquiring new business is one of their top challenges, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters Solo and Small Law Firm group. In other words, if law firm business development is difficult for you, you’re not alone.

4 Ways to Build Strong Client Relationships for Law Firms EverSpark  Interactive

There’s more to building a business than buying a few online ads and praying for clients. You’ll need to spend time building relationships, while also keeping existing clients happy to ensure repeat business—all of which can be more difficult than it sounds.

We’ve rounded up a few best practices surrounding client relationships, based on our webinar, Business Development Strategies for Law Firms, held by Clio’s own Lawyer in Residence, Joshua Lenon. As he puts it:

Quite frankly, a lot of your own career development centers around your ability to bring in business, so it’s something that you should be focussing on from day one.

Whether you’re starting a new practice, or just looking to brush up on your law firm business development skills, this list includes several valuable tools to build positive client relationships and ensure sustainable growth for your law firm.

Client relationships and law firm business development

For any law firm—or any business, for that matter—it’s important to focus on building strong client relationships. Happy clients will keep coming back, and they may also recommend your services to others.

There are plenty of ways to build relationships, but some approaches work better than others. If you want to build the best client relationships possible, take a look at this chart from BTI Consulting, which outlines 17 activities to consider.

client relationships and law firm business development

Source: BTI Consulting

The two activities in the Business Magnets quadrant are less important. As Joshua says:

For the most part, your clients aren’t searching for an innovative approach. They’re not searching for a law firm that anticipates their needs, because they know that information already. They know what their needs are. So if you’re marketing yourself solely on these two features, while you might stand out a little bit, you might not be able to close the business. To close the business, you have to at least meet the price of admission.

In other words, the six activities listed in the Price of Admission quadrant outline the basic expectations most clients will have for you. Clients won’t single you out as exceptional for keeping them informed and dealing with unexpected changes, but you’ll need to demonstrate that you’re capable of these activities to close new business.

So how do you build client relationships to reach relationship bliss? According to Joshua and BTI, there are at least five things that you as a lawyer can do to keep your clients coming back:

1. Reach out with unprompted communication

Joshua states:

Unprompted communication is something that I think is really easy for lawyers to do, but so few actually do it. Reaching out to a client with an update—whether it’s significant or not—is a great way to show involvement in a matter, but a lot of lawyers don’t necessarily do this.

2. Pay attention to regional reputation management

Why reputation management services matter to your business - Read more |  Expert System | Expert.ai

For lawyers responsible for business development in solo, small, and medium-sized firms, Joshua notes:

You’re going to be dealing with regional clients, and they’re going to be asking their colleagues whom they turn to. If you have a regional reputation—and that can be demonstrated in a variety of different ways, whether it’s by participation in community activities, or by coverage in the local news—your ability to demonstrate that reputation will help you build a stronger relationship.

3. Offer a breadth of service

Lawyers can’t claim to specialize under most states’ ethical advertising rules, but many still fall into the trap of keeping a narrow focus and missing out on clients.

As Joshua explains:

We tend to focus on a particular area of expertise and seek clients for that. But clients are actually seeking lawyers that can handle their needs, not necessarily just your expertise.

Make sure that you’re open to helping clients, even if it means referring or handing a client off to an appropriate source for aid.

4. Demonstrate your value

As a lawyer, you need to be able to demonstrate your value. But while some lawyers charge upwards of $1,000 per hour, demonstrating dollar value can sometimes be difficult. And, clients can sometimes see lawyers as interchangeable, regardless of their skill or expertise.

That’s a problem—in that scenario, clients see cost but not value.

“You need to show the client you’re actually saving them money or time or emotional grief because they’re hiring you,” Joshua states.

5. Show a commitment to help

“You need to be able to understand the client’s business,” Joshua says. “It may be family affairs, it may actually be a business, but you need to be able to recognize what they’re actually seeking, focus on it, and demonstrate a commitment to help.”

How do you demonstrate this? Dan Pinnington does it with a simple question for clients: “What’s your greatest concern?” He finds that this forces his clients into a moment of clarity, and allows him to reassure them that he can help with their greatest worries as they apply to the matter at hand.

“Dan didn’t arrive at this question because he was told about it,” Joshua says. “He arrived at this question because that’s what worked with the clients he was seeking.”

Key takeaways

Real Estate Attorney | Savannah, GA | J. Scott Vaughan

To sum up, here’s what you need to focus on to build strong client relationships for sustainable law firm business development:

  • Reach out. Unprompted communication does wonder for showing your clients that you’re involved.
  • Manage your local reputation. Get involved in your community to build relationships with potential clients.
  • Broaden your horizons. Be ready to help anyone who comes through your door—even if it means referring them to another lawyer.
  • Communicate value. Take extra care to explain how your services save your client money and/or time.
  • Focus on helping. Ask your client what their greatest concern is, and show your commitment to helping with that.

There’s a lot more to successful law firm business development beyond building client relationships. Traditional networking activities and online promotion should also be part of your plan. You’ll also need to track your efforts to ensure they’re effective.

Joshua talks about all that and more in the webinar, which you can watch here.

Want to do a deep dive into law firm business development? Watch our webinar, Business Development Strategies for Law Firms, for tips to on how to grow your firm.

December 9, 2021 /
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What You Can Expect from the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you’re looking at prison time or a hefty fine, it’s a good idea to look into hiring the best criminal defense lawyer possible. You may have the ability to get a court-appointed lawyer if your income qualifies.

Simply put: the legal system is designed to make competently representing yourself in criminal trials almost impossible. Even if you have an abnormally high IQ, the system does not work in your favor. Hiring an attorney to represent you in your criminal trial is a necessity.

This article discusses:

What Does a Criminal Lawyer Do?

Because no criminal case is exactly like another, criminal defense lawyers are trained to pick out the parts of each case that make them unique.

In essence, they use their knowledge to find subtle evidence and reasons why you should win the case.

Also, the best criminal defense lawyer for you may be able to spot certain arguments and factors that could mitigate or even negate any potential crime. Even if you are guilty and the evidence is against you, they may be able to help you reduce fines and jail time.

Daily Responsibilities of a Criminal Lawyer

The day-to-day of being an attorney might not seem glamorous. Generally, it involves:

  • Contacting clients through email, phone calls, video calls, or in-person meetings
  • Reading case documents, evidence, and statutes (laws)
  • Taking notes on what would be helpful for the case
  • Forming a strategy for the case

While these activities may seem boring, they are the essential building blocks to making a strong case.

Criminal attorneys often spend months preparing for a case. The preparation can take much longer than actually being in the courtroom. This way, when the case goes to court, things can move as quickly as possible, and there are no surprises in the case.

What Specific Work Does a Criminal Lawyer Do That I Can’t Do?

5 Things You Should Expect from the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer |  Sponsored | state-journal.com

After the research and strategy are done, a criminal defense lawyer has many jobs. While in court, they will call witnesses in your defense and cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses.

They need to be dynamic and trustworthy, explain complex topics to a jury, and be prepared to discuss any aspect of the case. And this is just the beginning of the tasks ahead of them.

Specialties and Duties: Plea Bargains

Your criminal defense attorney may work with you and the prosecutor to negotiate a “plea bargain.”

A plea bargain can reduce your potential sentence or eliminate some of the charges brought against you. However, prosecutors are often unwilling to negotiate with defendants that represent themselves.

Specialties and Duties: Sentencing

Your attorney will figure out a good sentencing program for your situation.

If you’re found guilty, your criminal defense attorney may be able to change your sentence. Often, they are changed in a way that would prevent you from winding back in the criminal justice system.

For instance, instead of going to prison for ten months for a drug possession conviction, your criminal defense attorney may suggest a prison sentence of six months and then four months in a drug treatment facility. This approach aims to help you with the drug problem that landed you in trouble in the first place.

Specialties and Duties: Case Outcomes

As hard as it might be to hear, an attorney has the experience and training to provide you with a reality check.

Defense lawyers know what’s going on much better than you will during your criminal trial. They also can predict how a case is going and what the judge or jury’s outcome may be.

Your defense attorney has the advantage of:

  • Remaining objective throughout a proceeding
  • Offering realistic insights into how the trial is actually going

These assessments and reality checks are often essential when a criminal defendant is trying to decide whether or not to accept a prosecutor’s plea bargain.

Specialties and Duties: Rules and Regulations

You can read books on criminal defense, but it takes years of study to grasp this area of law. Your attorney will point out important legal rules and regulations that you most likely wouldn’t find on your own.

Many rules about criminal prosecutions are buried within regulations and laws, and even prior court decisions.

For example, if you were to represent yourself, you may never know if the search that the police conducted of your apartment was lawful or not. To know this, you must understand the many nuances and intricacies surrounding the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Specialties and Duties: State-Specific People and Systems

Most people will find it hard to navigate their case through the state legal system where the case is being heard.

There are written rules, such as the local rules of court, that must be obeyed and followed. There are also often many “unwritten rules” that go along with each jurisdiction.

For example, let’s say only certain prosecutors can make and approve plea bargains. Your criminal defense lawyer may save you time (and maybe even jail time) by talking to the right person the first time.

Specialties and Duties: Consequences of Pleading Guilty

Your attorney can easily explain some of the “hidden costs” that come along with pleading guilty. Many people that represent themselves never think about the consequences of pleading guilty if it could lead to a shorter sentence.

For example, if you plead guilty, you may find it very hard to find a job once you’ve completed your punishment. An attorney will make sure you understand all your options before you plead.

Specialties and Duties: Handling Witnesses

Your attorney is trained in working with witnesses. They will be able to more easily gather evidence and statements from witnesses that are going to be called by the prosecution. Handling this without experience can be challenging for someone representing themselves.

Many witnesses, understandably so, refuse to give statements or information to people that were allegedly involved in a crime for fear of their own safety. However, these witnesses are often much more willing to talk to an attorney about their upcoming testimony.

Specialties and Duties: Handling Investigators and Experts

Part of the case will require finding and hiring investigators and expert witnesses.

Investigators can investigate not only the alleged crime but also the prosecution’s witnesses. If these investigators can find evidence that would make a witness’s testimony less believable, this could help your case tremendously.

Similarly, expert witnesses may be able to present evidence that would tend to show your innocence. They can also rebut evidence that the prosecution presents, making the prosecution’s case less credible.

Reading Books Can’t Replace Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Some criminal defendants seek to represent themselves by researching and reading books. However, reading books that spell out crimes, punishments, and defenses probably won’t lead you to victory in your case.

As any seasoned lawyer will tell you, there’s quite a vast difference between reading about the law and actually practicing the law in court.

Nothing Replaces Courtroom Experience

Understanding the ebbs and flows of a criminal trial can make the difference between winning and losing your case.

“Prosecutorial discretion” is a prime example of these ebbs and flows. Even the simple decision of what to charge a criminal defendant with can be complex. This can make all the difference in how a case is handled.

For example, what may appear to be a simple crime on paper could realistically be cast to be a multiple count indictment or a simple misdemeanor. Criminal defense lawyers are skilled at negotiating with prosecutors to figure out what counts to charge.

What Does Someone Need to Do to Become a Criminal Lawyer?

A degree in criminal law requires:

  • A four-year degree from an accredited university
  • Three years of school from an accredited law school
  • A Juris Doctor degree
  • Passing the bar exam in the state they wish to practice in
  • A license to practice from the state

Law students can appear in court while in school if a licensed attorney supervises them.

Many law students will also intern at a law firm before they are hired at a firm. Once hired, attorneys will likely shadow more experienced attorneys to learn the ropes before taking major cases.

Experienced attorneys will have years under their belt in and out of court. Still, newer attorneys are often cheaper to hire. Consider which level of experience better suits your needs.

What Questions Should You Ask a Criminal Lawyer?

Most criminal law attorneys don’t handle every type of criminal case. There is a large difference between defending a DUI and defending a client charged with murder. It is crucial to hire an attorney who has experience in the charges you are facing.

You should also communicate well with the attorney and feel comfortable being honest with them, and the approach they will take in court. Not every attorney is a fit for every client.

You should ask a prospective attorney these types of questions:

  • How long have you practiced law?
  • Have you handled a case like this?
  • What percentage of your time is spent on this specific type of case?
  • Do you focus on a certain area of criminal law?
  • What information do you need/should I prepare for our first meeting?
  • How do you handle fees? (Hourly, on retainer, per case, payment plans, credit cards, etc.)

Get Professional Help From a Criminal Defense Attorney

Top Questions to Ask a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer in Dallas

As you can see, a good criminal defense lawyer can make your job easier. They can also improve your chances of winning your case or obtaining a more favorable plea bargain.

Even if you qualify for a court-appointed attorney, there’s nothing keeping you from speaking with an experienced attorney to obtain a second opinion on your case.

If you’re really set on representing yourself in court, you should, at the very least, retain the best criminal defense lawyer possible to act as a coach during your trial.

You can find an experienced criminal defense attorney near you and start by reading reviews and testimonials or having a free phone consultation to ask questions about your case.

November 29, 2021 /
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Importance of a Strong Attorney-Client Relationship

The following is information regarding Virginia defense attorney Mary Nerino and her thoughts on the attorney-client relationship. To learn more or discuss your case, call and schedule a consultation today.

Amenities Of The Attorney-Client Relationship, Part One - California Desert  Trial Academy College of Law

Important Factors To Consider When Meeting An Attorney

Two factors are particularly important in an attorney-client relationship: trust and accessibility.

Trust is important because clients need to know that their attorney not only has their best interests at heart, but also that their attorney will not reveal the information that that they’re sharing in confidence. This is really important because a client needs to be able to speak with the attorney about every aspect of his or her case. If a client doesn’t trust his or her attorney, it’s going to make preparation of a successful defense a lot more difficult.

Additionally, an attorney should be available to speak with a client whenever the client has questions. A lot of attorneys are very busy, and sometimes it is difficult to reach your attorney. However, a client should never be left wondering what’s happening in the case. Clients should be able to say with confidence, “I know my attorney is busy, but I know that the case is moving forward.” The attorney should always let the client know that he or she will be in touch as soon as there’s new information about the case.

I think that with trust and accessibility, the attorney-client relationship is more successful.

Building an Attorney-Client Relationship

For me, the first step in building a strong attorney-client relationship is good communication. I’m extremely straightforward with my clients. I set out clearly what their expectations should be of me and what my expectations will be going forward in our professional relationship.

Amenities Of The Attorney-Client Relationship, Part Two - California Desert  Trial Academy College of Law

I usually tell my clients up front what they can expect from me and what steps I’m going to take moving forward. I specifically lay out when they can expect me to contact them and how they can reach me if they have questions in the meantime. I let my clients know that they can text me or call me at any time during the day or at night because I am always available on my cell phone. I give out my cell phone number to my clients so that it’s easier for them to reach out to me when they have concerns.

As I move forward in a case, I also check in with the client. Even if the client isn’t specifically concerned about what I’m doing, I still touch base and update the client along the way. That way, the client can remain confident that the case is being taken care of.

Importance of Trust in Criminal Defense

The Lawyer's Challenge: Meeting Client Demand in a Tech-Driven World –  eDepoze

Trust between a criminal defense attorney and a client is incredibly important. For one thing, open communication from the client ensures that the attorney can get the clearest picture of what happened in the case and therefore what defenses to build. Additionally, if a client is not going to trust his or her attorney, it’s going to affect the attorney’s ability to effectively represent him or her in the courtroom.

In my cases, I try to make it very clear to my clients that I am somebody that they can trust from the very beginning. This has been a huge help because clients might be embarrassed or worried about what I (or others) might think about certain facts. In order for me to do my job effectively, my clients need to feel comfortable sharing this information with me so that I can have a clearer picture of how to be the most effective advocate.

Another aspect of trust is getting a client to trust your ability to prepare the case and trust you regarding the possible outcomes of the case. A lot of times, my clients are facing time in jail or prison, and they need to have absolute confidence that I can effectively represent their side of the story and fight for their freedom.

 

November 26, 2021 /
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Responsibilities and Duties of a Criminal Lawyer

Not every legal issue requires you to hire an attorney, and not every matter that requires an attorney necessarily requires a criminal lawyer. If there are times when you’ve gotten yourself into a sticky situation, then chances are good that you need to hire an experienced criminal lawyer.

Charges like drunk driving, possession of a controlled substance, or theft might mean you face incarceration in jail, probation, licence prohibition, a criminal record, and other consequences are all situations when you should call a criminal defence lawyer.

What exactly are the duties of a criminal lawyer? Below are the five criminal lawyer duties and responsibilities:

 

1. Criminal Lawyers Know the Process

An experienced criminal lawyer is regularly in front of judges in criminal courts, and are thus familiar with their preferences and likely outcomes during sentencing. In some cases, a good criminal lawyer can step in and communicate with the prosecutor to try to make a change to the charges filed and their severity.

Special knowledge allows criminal lawyers to evaluate and accept plea offers, understand and take advantage of diversion opportunities, and know all the potential defence strategies along with what you might expect from both the prosecutor and the judge.

2. Criminal Lawyers Can Predict the Possible Outcomes

A criminal defence lawyer will know all the possible outcomes in terms of a formal sentence as well as any long-term, informal consequences. Different charges have different consequences, and so you need to have a very clear understanding of all of the potential outcomes in order to make an informed decision regarding whether you should accept a plea deal or take the case to trial.

You also need to clearly understand the less immediate consequences of a disposition, like immigration consequences, penalty enhancement for future or pending cases, employment-related consequences, and eligibility for record-clearing.

3. Criminal Lawyers Are Devoted to Your Case

Even if you qualify financially for a crown-appointed lawyer, there are benefits to finding the money to work with a private criminal defence lawyer. Public defenders are usually dedicated and experienced, but they work under the constraints of a federal budget. Meetings with a public defender will likely be brief, usually in the halls outside the courtroom on days of the hearing. Furthermore, a public defender’s budget might limit your access to forensic experts and testing that could potentially strengthen your defence.

A private criminal defence attorney limits his or her resources and time to just the individuals being defended. They will also take the proper amount of time to meet with the client in order to educate him or her on the process and let them know their possible defence strategies.

4. Criminal Lawyers Have Experience

Many criminal cases, such as drug offences, involve search and seizures that recover contraband or drugs that infringe on your right against unreasonable search and seizure. One duty of a criminal lawyer is to have this evidence suppressed if possible, which can result in the charges against you being dismissed, or a big reduction in the type of charge or penalty.

5. Criminal Lawyers Can Mitigate the Impact to Your Family

Staying out of jail might be your first priority, but if that’s inevitable, an experienced criminal law firm can work with you and your family to reduce the economic impact of a drug case and work to avoid seizure of assets and/or property. No matter what type of criminal charge you face, it’s always a good idea to consult with an experienced criminal lawyer, The sooner you speak with a lawyer, the sooner he or she can start working to protect your rights and make a difference in the outcome of your case.

October 25, 2021 /
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What Are the Duties of a Criminal Attorney?

Criminal defense attorneys have a variety of legal duties. Generally, they are obligated to keep communications between themselves and their clients confidential. They owe their clients zealous defenses, but also have separate duties to courts to present all defenses in an honest manner. Criminal defenses also must avoid conflicts of interest, which generally means they cannot represent multiple parties in the same criminal matter.

10 Different Types of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Privileged Communications

Criminal defense attorneys generally must maintain privilege, or privacy, regarding attorney-client communications. Privilege allows clients to safely speak to their attorneys without fears of reprisals, but there are exceptions. Privilege does not apply if clients use their attorneys’ advice to commit crimes. Generally, attorneys may break privilege pursuant to court orders or to prevent deaths or bodily injuries. Clients also may waive their right to privilege. And, when clients die, prior attorney-client communications generally lose privileged status.

 

Zealous Representation

A criminal defense attorney has a duty to zealously represent her client by taking all reasonable steps to prepare a viable defense. She must gather facts, interview witnesses, review police reports, subpoena documents, and research case precedents and statutes. Attorneys may also request courts to consider new and novel interpretations of existing law to support their client’s interests. Attorneys should be prepared to examine witnesses at trial and to prepare compelling arguments for judges and juries.

 

Conflicts or Interests

Criminal defense attorneys have a duty to avoid conflicts of interests when representing their clients. For example, if several accountants are accused of criminal fraud their defenses may include shifting blame to one another. Attorneys cannot implicate one client to help another. Attorneys must also ensure that past clients do not create conflicts in current cases. For instance, an attorney may not be able to adequately attack a witness if the two of them previously shared an attorney-client relationship.

6 Qualities Of A Good Criminal Defense Lawyer | Attorney at Law Magazine

Honesty to Courts

A criminal defense attorney, like all lawyers, is an officer of the court and owes a duty of candor to judges and juries. He may not knowingly make representations to courts that are untruthful. He is required to be as honest as possible when communicating with courts. He cannot support clients who commit perjury. Attorneys must take reasonable steps to remedy known perjury by clients, which may include lawfully breaking attorney-client privilege to report it.

The Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney - Gilles Law, PLLC

 

October 11, 2021 /
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The Qualities to Look for in a Criminal Lawyer

Finding the Right Criminal Attorney

Are lawyers immoral for defending guilty criminals?

From the moment you get involved with the criminal justice system, it can be a cumbersome and complicated process to go through. When facing criminal charges, it is critical to have legal representation when it comes to your defense — and finding the right criminal attorney to help you can be a daunting process.

Having legal representation goes far beyond having someone advocate for you in a courtroom. You want to ensure that your attorney has all the skills, knowledge, and understanding of the criminal court system to ensure you get sound advice and reliable representation.

Selecting the right attorney is paramount to protecting your rights and getting a fair trial. Here are ten qualities you should be looking for in your criminal attorney.

1. Integrity

Having representation from an attorney whose practice lives by strong moral principles is extremely important when looking for an attorney. Your attorney is there to protect your rights and to make the right choices and decisions on your behalf.

2. Good Communication Skills

While you want your attorney to communicate well to the judge and jury, they need to be a good listener too. As a client, having an attorney who listens to the account of your case and those involved can help them decide the strategies needed to defend you.

Your lawyer should also effectively communicate with other lawyers or prosecutors involved in your case to negotiate terms and conditions relating to your release or court settlements. Their demeanor in the courtroom is also critical. When presenting a case in front of a judge and jury, your attorney needs to exude confidence and not be intimidated by judges or prosecutors.

3. Caring and Understanding

Being charged with a crime is a scary and stressful scenario. Having an attorney who is understanding and empathetic to your situation can help ease your emotional stresses. Your lawyer should have concern for your safety and well-being and understand the emotional impact that it can have on your family members as well. They should also be conscious of minimizing public exposure so you can maintain your privacy.

4. Good Research and Investigation Skills

Criminal defense involves a lot of research and time — and you can’t afford to have an attorney walk into a courtroom on your behalf and just “wing it.” Each case is unique, and a cookie-cutter approach to your defense won’t work. Your attorney should be keen on doing legal research of other similar cases, as well as taking a deeper dive into your specific case to find anything that may have been overlooked that could point to your innocence or lessen the charge.

5. Analytical Skills

What Role Does a Defense Lawyer Play in a Criminal Case?

When it comes to negotiating terms, challenging the prosecution, or closing arguments to the jury, your attorney must demonstrate sharp thinking and quick rebuttals when it comes to your defense in the courtroom.

6. Aggressiveness

In the defense of your criminal case, aggressiveness, at certain times, can be necessary. When used at the right time and place, it can be an advantage. An attorney who is passionate about advocating for your rights and using aggressiveness at the right time can result in a better outcome for you.

7. Approachability

When you hire an attorney to represent you in a criminal case, this is the person you are counting on for the best possible results. You want this person to be someone with whom you are comfortable. You want them to be approachable and capable of communicating with you on a level that you find relatable.

8. Criminal Law Experience

After completing their education and passing the bar exam, most attorneys move into an area of specialization. That translates to each attorney deciding to work in a specific area of the law.

If you are facing severe criminal charges, you don’t want to put your freedom in the hands of an attorney who handles mostly civil cases. You want an attorney who knows their way around the criminal justice system. Better yet, there is value in you finding an attorney who has an abundance of experience with the specific crime or crimes of which you are being charged. When interviewing criminal defense attorneys, they should supply you with case studies and successes they have achieved.

9. Connections to the Local Legal Community

What is a Criminal Lawyers' Role? - Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia

In every city, county, and state, the legal community has a very distinct structure. Attorneys know prosecutors, and everyone knows the presiding judges. If you are facing criminal charges in Miami, it should make sense that you want a well established Miami criminal defense attorney advocating on your behalf. Through their reputation and involvement in the local legal community, they will know how to get things done and who to call on for important information.

10. Confidentiality

When you discuss your case with your lawyer, everything you say is confidential and should always remain between you and your attorney. Not only can breach of confidential information hurt your case, but it’s also an unethical act on behalf of your lawyer. This is often referred to as an attorney-client privilege — and it’s your right to have privacy when it comes to your case.

Are You Facing Criminal Charges? We Can Help

If you are currently dealing with a criminal matter, we encourage you to seek legal representation as soon as possible. At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., we specialize in criminal law in the Miami area and are ready to protect your rights.

September 28, 2021 /
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The Top 10 Lawyer Types You’re Most Likely to Need

Suppose you want to sue a contractor for breaching a contract, or you want to sue a competitor for stealing your employees. What kind of lawyer do you need? Should you just whip out the Yelp app and search for the nearest five-star-rated lawyer? If you’ve tried that, you may have been told by the highly-rated lawyer that he or she doesn’t handle the particular legal problem you’re experiencing. There are many types of lawyers, and knowing which kind of lawyer you need is the first step towards hiring the right one. The attorney who did such an excellent job drafting your will may not be the best lawyer to challenge your non-compete agreement. Personally, I get many calls from prospective clients who want me to appeal their criminal conviction, or fight for custody of their kids, or get them out of a traffic ticket, and I don’t do any of those things. And lawyers who do handle such matters typically don’t practice in the sorts of business disputes and defamation matters that my firm typically handles.

So I thought I would offer this quick-and-dirty guide to what I consider to be the ten most in-demand types of lawyers for most individuals and small businesses. If you find yourself in need of legal advice or representation and don’t know what kind of lawyer you need, check out the descriptions below, locate the legal issue you’re experiencing, then narrow your search to focus on the type of lawyer that corresponds to your specific need.

1. Civil Litigation Lawyer (a.k.a. Trial Attorney)

You’ve been sued. A process server showed up on your doorstep and served you with papers requiring you to appear in court to defend yourself in a matter brought by another business or an individual. (Note: if the suit papers indicate that it’s the “Commonwealth” or the “State” that initiated the proceedings, the matter is most likely criminal in nature and requires a different type of attorney). Or someone harmed you in some way and you want to sue them. Perhaps your small business provided services to a vendor on a government contract and never got paid, in violation of the subcontract. Or your ex-employee has started a competing business in violation of his noncompete obligations to your firm. Basically, when two or more private parties have a dispute and desire to have it resolved in court, you need a lawyer who specializes in civil litigation.

2. Criminal Defense Lawyer

Courtroom proceedings are considered criminal in nature (as opposed to civil) when the state (through prosecuting attorneys) charges you with the commission of a crime. If you’ve been arrested, read your Miranda rights, and taken into custody by the police, you need a criminal defense lawyer. The criminal defense lawyer will work to ensure you are deemed “innocent until proven guilty” and will argue for a “not guilty” verdict, typically by trying to poke holes in (and cast doubt on) the prosecution’s theory of the case. Want to stay out of jail? Hire a good criminal defense attorney.

3. Defamation Lawyer (a.k.a. Libel and Slander Attorney)

Defamation lawyers are a subset of civil litigation lawyers. You want a defamation attorney if you need to take someone to court for defaming your character through libel and/or slander, or if you’ve been accused of causing harm to the reputation of another individual or business by making false and defamatory statements of your own. Defamation law is complex and it is often helpful to retain a lawyer with particular expertise in this area if you find yourself on either end of a defamation-related dispute.

4. Business Lawyer (litigation or transactional)

Many business owners assume they need a “business lawyer,” whatever the nature of the legal problem they’re experiencing. In fact, “business law” is too broad a category to be meaningful. Business lawyers generally fall into two mutually exclusive categories: litigation and transactional. Business litigation (often referred to as Signingcommercial litigation) is a major subset of civil litigation (see above). Businesses sue each other all the time, for any number of reasons. If your business is being sued for allegedly breaching a contract with another business, you will have more luck securing representation if you narrow your search to one seeking a business litigation attorney rather than a “business lawyer.” On the other side of the coin, a “transactional” business lawyer is the lawyer you need to help your business form, grow, and thrive. The transactional lawyer will incorporate your startup, help secure funding, draft your employment and non-disclosure agreements, issue stock, spin off subsidiaries, and countless other tasks associated with operating your business. Unlike the business litigation attorney, the transactional lawyer does not go to court.

5. Family Lawyer (a.k.a. Domestic Relations Attorney; a.k.a. Divorce Lawyer)

You want a divorce. You want custody of your kids. Your ex-wife wants an increase in her spousal support and you’d rather not give it to her. You’re getting married and you want to ensure you won’t lose half of everything you own if you ever get a divorce. If your legal needs involve family relationships and obligations, you need a family lawyer.

6. Traffic Lawyer

Traffic lawyers are often considered a type of criminal defense lawyer, but there’s a big difference between being accused of murder and being accused of running a red light, and different considerations come into play in formulating defense strategy. You’re going to want to look for a traffic lawyer if you’ve been caught speeding, driving on a suspended license, or cited for any kind of traffic infraction. Driving-related offenses, including DUI citations, call for the specialized expertise of a good traffic lawyer.

7. Trusts and Estates Lawyer

What’s going to happen to all of your money and property after you die? How can you minimize estate taxes and maximize your children’s inheritance? Can you draft your will in such a way that your property can be Last Willtransferred to those people you want to receive it without having to go to court for “probate”? Consult a trusts and estates lawyer to get answers to these sorts of questions.

8. Immigration Lawyer

Suppose your business wants to hire a specialized worker from another country. Or maybe you are that worker and need help obtaining an H-1B visa. Perhaps you need assistance in connection with a deportation proceeding, or you want to help your spouse obtain a green card. For these sorts of issues, you’re going to need a specialist: an immigration lawyer.

9. Personal Injury Lawyer

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, find yourself a personal injury attorney. These lawyers are experienced in dealing with insurance companies and helping you obtain the maximum recovery in light of the liability and damages issues involved. Personal injury lawyers don’t just handle car-accident cases. Typically, this is the type of lawyer you need if you’ve suffered a physical injury as the result of someone else’s negligence. Examples include “premises liability” cases (such as where you’ve slipped and fallen at a commercial establishment due to an unsafe condition), medical malpractice cases, and animal attacks.

10. Real Estate Lawyer

Real estate lawyers deal with rights concerning land, water, and structures. Perhaps you need to determine whether a lien has been asserted against your property, or you need to carve out an easement. Maybe you need to divide one lot into two or more lots, or change the zoning classification, or move a boundary line. A real estate lawyer will help you with these kinds of problems.

Contact us for more information.

September 8, 2021 /
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Criminal Law

Overview

Criminal law, as distinguished from civil law, is a system of laws concerned with the punishment of individuals who commit crimes. Thus, wherein a civil case two individuals dispute their rights, a criminal prosecution involves the government deciding whether to punish an individual for either an act or an omission.

A “crime” is any act or omission in violation of a law prohibiting the action or omission.

Criminal Law - consortio Law Firm

Criminal Codes

Each state decides what conduct to designate a crime. Thus, each state has its own criminal codeCongress has also chosen to punish certain conduct, codifying federal criminal law in Title 18 of the U.S. Code. Criminal laws vary significantly among the states and the federal government. While some statutes resemble the common law criminal code, others, like the New York Penal Law, closely mimic the Model Penal Code (MPC).

Codification of Criminal Procedure

Congress codified the federal criminal law and criminal procedure in Title 18 of the U.S. Code with §§ 1 to 2725 dealing with crimes. Title 18 designates various conduct as federal crimes, such as arson, use of chemical weaponscounterfeit and forgeryembezzlementespionagegenocide, and kidnapping. These statutes usually prescribe a maximum sentence appropriate for a convicted individual. For additional Federal Regulations, consult 28 C.F.R.

The federal government has also codified the specific procedures which must take place during the course of a criminal proceeding in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Elements of a Crime

What is criminal law, and how is it different to civil law?

An individual commits a crime if he or she acts in a way that fulfills every element of an offense. The statute establishing the offense also establishes the elements of the offense. In general, every crime involves three elements: first, the act or conduct (“actus reus”); second, the individual’s mental state at the time of the act (“men’s rea”); and third, the causation between the act and the effect (typically either “proximate causation” or “but-for causation“). In a criminal prosecution, the government has the burden of proof to establish every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

According to the Supreme Court in Elonis v. the United States, 575 U.S. __ (2015), when a statute does not prescribe a specific mental state, a court will infer the “men’s rea which is necessary to separate wrongful from innocent conduct.”

Types of Crimes

Crimes can be generally separated into four categories: feloniesmisdemeanorsinchoate offenses, and strict liability offenses.

Each state, and the federal government, decide what sort of conduct to criminalize. At common law, there were nine major felonies (MurderRobberyManslaughterRapeSodomyLarcenyArsonMayhem, and Burglary) and various misdemeanors (i.e. assaultbatteryfalse imprisonmentperjury, and intimidation of jurors).

The U.S. Code is far more extensive than the common law. Nonetheless, Congress has limited power to make criminal laws. As this power is generally reserved to the states, state criminal codes, such as the New York Penal Law, are far more complicated than the U.S. Code. N.Y. Penal Law prescribes nine levels of felonies, ranging from residential mortgage fraud in the fourth degree to terrorism.

Sentencing Guidelines

The federal government and state governments have created various sentencing guidelines. Federal courts use the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, while state courts will look at state-specific sentencing guidelines.

Liability for Accomplices

When multiple parties are involved, the traditional first step is to classify the participants according to the following categories:

  1. Principal in the first degree – those who actually commit a crime (i.e. the perpetrator). Perpetrators are not accomplices and this section does not pertain to them.
  2. Principal in the second degree – those who aided, counseled, commanded, or encouraged the perpetrator in the actual commission of a crime. An abettor is considered an accomplice.
  3. Accessory before the fact – those who aided, counseled, commanded, or encouraged the perpetrator to commit the crime, without actually being present at the moment of perpetration. An accessory (before the fact) is considered an accomplice.
  4. Accessory after the fact – those who aid an individual, knowing the individual to be a criminal, in an effort to hinder the individual’s detention, arrest, trial, or punishment. Accessories (after the fact) are guilty of a separate crime, so this section does not pertain to them.

To convict an accomplice, the prosecutor needs to establish the requisite actus reus and mens rea. That is, the prosecutor must prove that the accomplice acted in support of the perpetrator, and had the requisite mental state while doing so. It is important to note that some jurisdictions allow accomplices to be prosecuted independently of the principal perpetrator. Thus, an accomplice could be found guilty of a more severe offense than the principal. In certain jurisdictions, an accomplice may be convicted while the alleged perpetrator is acquitted.

Ex Post Facto

An ex post facto law retroactively punishes actions. The Constitution explicitly forbids this practices in Article 1, Sections 9 and 10.

Punishing For Status

A law cannot punish a person simply for their status. As the Supreme Court explained in Robinson v. California, 370 U.S. 660 (1962), any statute that criminalizes the status of a person inflicts a cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment. For example, a state could not punish an individual for “being homeless,” which would be a status offense, but could punish a homeless individual for trespassing or loitering, which involves some conduct.

Defenses

Criminal Law Update: A Survey of State Law Changes in 2019 | The Federalist  Society

There are a number of defenses available to a defendant in criminal prosecution. The following list illustrates some common defenses individuals rely on:

  • Failure of Proof – an individual’s simplest defense in a criminal prosecution is to claim that the prosecution has not or cannot prove an element of the offense.
  • Mistakes – in certain circumstances, an individual’s mistake can be used as a defense.
    • Mistake of Law – a mistake regarding the legal status or effect of some situation.
    • Mistake of Fact – a mistake regarding the facts of some situation.
  • Justifications – these are complete defenses
    • Self-Defense: the use of force to protect oneself from an attempted injury by another.
    • Defense of property: a person may use force to protect his property from a felony occurring within.
    • Defense of Others: the right of a person to protect a third party with reasonable force against an assailant who seeks to inflict force upon the third party.
    • Necessity: sometimes referred to as the “choice of evils,” the necessity defense allows an individual to engage in otherwise unlawful conduct if by doing so the individual avoids greater harm.
  • Excuses – these are partial defenses
    • Duress: an individual may plead duress if another individual forced him or her to engage in illegal conduct by force or threat of force.
    • Intoxication: an individual who was involuntarily intoxicated can plead intoxication as a defense to every crime. An individual who was voluntarily intoxicated can plead intoxication as a defense only to crimes that require a specific mental state.
    • Insanity: an insane individual cannot form the requisite mental state, and thus cannot be found guilty.

Contact us for more information.

August 30, 2021 /
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