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How to Select a Criminal Attorney -

       A person charged with a criminal offense has the right to an attorney. This right is guaranteed under Article I, Sec. 15 of the California Constitution. which states "The defendant in a criminal cause has the right to a speedy public trial, to compel attendance of witnesses in the defendant's behalf, to have the assistance of counsel for the defendant's defense, to be personally present with counsel...".

       If you are unable to afford an attorney, the state will provide an attorney to represent you. In most counties, the court appointed attorneys are called Public Defenders. These are qualified attorneys who work for the County and are available to assist defendants

Finding a Private Attorney

       If you are looking to talk to a private attorney about your criminal case or want to retain an attorney to represent you, then there are many lawyer referral services that are available that you can contact. They are the State Bar of California, personal referrals, the Internet and the yellow pages in your local phone book.

The State Bar of California - The State Bar of California is the state agency that is responsible for licensing and disciplining attorneys as well as certifying lawyer referral services in the State of California. The State Bar maintains a lawyer referral service program the State Bar's offices at 180 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. They can be reached by email at: LRS@calbar.ca.gov or by phone at (415) 538-2250 or 1 (866) 442-2529 (toll free in California). At the State Bar website, for each county, you can get a list of each certified lawyer referral service.
Personal Referrals - Personal referrals can also be a good source of finding an attorney. Do you know of a friend or relative who was involved in a criminal matter? However, it is not usually good to simply go by what only one other persontells you. Get several names. Most criminal attorneys are willing to have the initial consultation at no cost. Find out if you feel comfortable with the attorney.
The Internet - The Internet is another good source for information as to which attorney to retain. First of all, you want to get a criminal defense attorney. The divorce attorney might be excellent at handling your divorce and custody issues, but criminal law is a specialized area of the law. There are many attorneys who advertise their areas of practice on the Internet. You can find that there can be some attorneys who specialize in handling DUI's (driving under the influence), whereas other attorneys might focus on white collar crime and yet others deal with homicides.
Yellow Pages in the Phone Book - The phone book yellow pages also might have considerable information about possible attorneys. Most yellow pages divide the attorneys according to their respective areas of practice, so you could look under "Attorneys - Criminal Defense."

Specialists in Criminal Law

       In fact, the California State Bar will license some attorneys as specialists in the area of criminal law if the attorney can pass a written examination, demonstrate a high level of knowledge

and experience in criminal law and receive favorable evaluations from attorneys and judges in their area of practice.

       As a general rule, it is usually helpful to get an attorney who is familiar with the courts where your case is pending. You would want a criminal defense who knows the judges and knows the prosecutors. Different counties have different methods of operation and it is generally beneficial to know the people involved.

Importance of Finding an Good Attorney

       The important thing to remember is to get an attorney involved as soon as possible. Many things that need to be done at the beginning of the case might not be available if you wait too long. There are many issues that need to be dealt with right away, such as the amount of bail, locating witnesses or preserving possible exculpatory evidence.

       Once you have interviewed with one or more attorneys, you can also go to the State Bar website to look up the attorney's official bar membership record, which includes any discipline history.

- Written by , Attorney at Law





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