Why Who You Choose as Your Defense Attorney Matters
Jan. 5, 2021
In 2019, Texas law enforcement made more than 805,000 arrests for violent and property crimes. Some people arrested have been wrongly accused while others committed the crime. No matter the circumstances, every single person charged with a crime is, under the law, entitled to the best defense. Who you choose to defend you does matter.
At The Torres Law Firm, we help clients in Corpus Christi, Dallas, and Fort Worth, Texas charged with crimes. We use our experience to provide knowledgeable and aggressive criminal defense to every single client we represent. We are tireless advocates, working toward realizing the best results possible.
Poor Representation Can Cost You Your Freedom
Hiring the right criminal defense attorney might make the difference between keeping your freedom or losing it for life.
A case in point is the story of Fate Winslow, a homeless man arrested in Louisiana in 2008 for selling $20 worth of marijuana to an undercover law enforcement officer. For this crime, Mr. Winslow was sent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary to serve a life sentence. A life sentence in one of the country’s most violent prisons for $20 worth of a drug that is now legal in most states for medicinal or recreational use.
Mr. Winslow’s attorney mounted no defense, called no witnesses, failed to object when the judge pronounced the life sentence and filed no motion for the court to reconsider. Mr. Winslow even stood up in court prior to the sentencing to ask the judge for a different attorney but his request was denied.
The judge’s sentence was based on Louisiana’s harsh prior offender guidelines. Mr. Winslow had three prior convictions, but none were for violent offenses. Had his attorney advised the court of this, the judge would have had the latitude to reduce the time under sentencing guidelines; however, his attorney said nothing.
Thanks to the efforts of the Innocence Project New Orleans, Mr. Winslow was released from prison this year after serving 12 years of the life sentence. Even 12 years was too high of a price for him to pay. If Mr. Winslow needed an advocate representing him in that courtroom; he did not have one.
Private Attorney vs. Public Defender
In the battle between private criminal defense attorneys and public defenders, the former will usually garner the best results for their clients. This is not because private attorneys are better or smarter at what they do. How they represent clients makes a difference.
Public defenders usually have large caseloads, representing numerous clients at any one time, while private attorneys can control the number of active cases they agree to handle. Private attorneys also generally have access to more resources that can be used in your defense, including expert witnesses and investigators.
Unlike public defenders, who often don’t pick up a file until the prosecuting attorney has filed formal charges against an alleged offender, private attorneys begin representing clients upon arrest and can often mount efforts before formal charges are filed by discussing the arrest with the prosecutor’s office.
In hiring a qualified private attorney of their choosing rather than being assigned a public defender, clients typically do get what they pay for.
Qualities to Look For In a Defense Attorney
There are several qualities you should look for when hiring a criminal defense attorney:
An attorney who practices locally. An attorney who represents clients in the court with jurisdiction over your case has some advantages. They know area prosecuting attorneys and how much each of them might be willing to negotiate charges and pleas for certain cases. They are also familiar with local law enforcement officers and how they might present themselves when testifying in your case.
An attorney with experience with your type of case. If you have been charged with a DUI, for example, you want your attorney to have experience defending DUI charges. The more serious the charges, the more serious this consideration should be for you.
An attorney you can talk to. Find an attorney who understands what you say to them and who you can understand. A good defense attorney should be an advocate and should talk with you in a way you can understand. You will make decisions about your defense based on what your lawyer recommends, so make sure you can truly communicate with one another.
An attorney who has the time and energy for your case. If you call an attorney after being arrested and are told they can’t see you quickly, that is probably an indication that they are too busy to give your case the attention it deserves. When you do meet with an attorney, check their energy level. If you are not comfortable with the tempo of your discussion, you might need someone who has more enthusiasm and energy for your case. The energy of an attorney is palpable in a courtroom.
An attorney with satisfied clients. No attorney can make guarantees about how your case will come out. In fact, if they do, they are violating their professional ethics. Listen to what their other clients are saying. Many law firm websites include stories about client outcomes or client testimonials. Reading them might give you an indication of the attorney’s skills and expertise.
How the Torres Attorneys Can Help
Even a minor criminal charge can negatively impact your personal relationships, employment, and financial wellbeing for the rest of your life. Failing to hire a solid defense attorney is gambling with your future.
The Torres Attorneys defend clients arrested or charged with criminal offenses in Corpus Christi, Dallas, and Fort Worth, Texas. We defend our clients as though their lives depend on it because they do. We are dedicated to providing the best criminal defense possible because you are entitled to one.
If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, wait no longer. Contact The Torres Attorneys now.