Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
Here are some questions you should ask before hiring any attorney to represent your San Diego Domestic Violence case.
NOTE: We urge you to print this page and use it as a questionnaire when you are interviewing prospective law firms. There are a lot of options and it is important to be able to spot the attorney you will need for your case.
1. Will the attorney you may retain be the one going to court on your behalf?
As a former prosecutor assigned to negotiations, I can tell you that a case was better handled by the lead attorney than an associate or other attorney. Several firms are based outside of San Diego County and hire an independent contractor to come in and handle their cases. I work exclusively doing San Diego criminal cases in San Diego county. I like knowing our team is the advocate for my clients. People working on your case will be part of this group. This is what you want.
2. Does the attorney have “behind the scenes” knowledge of San Diego Domestic Violence cases?
You need to verify how attorneys obtained experience in these type of cases. Working at a law firm and handling these cases is not formal training
As a former San Diego Domestic Violence Prosecutor, there was extensive training on the subject matter. There was formal training on how to identify cycles of violence. More importantly, there was ample training on how to identify a case that did not merit charges being issued. No four-hour seminar will substitute for first-hand experience here in San Diego.
3. Does the attorney offer payment plans?
I understand that people unexpectedly find themselves charged with a crime. Does the prospective attorney/firm want payment in full or at least half up front? Our office is proud to offer payment plans. It allows people to best utilize resources that are vital when someone is facing Domestic Violence charges.
4. Does the firm have working relationships with the Prosecutors and Judges? Are they EXTREMELY familiar with the judges and prosecutors that will be involved with my case?
Due to 20 years of experience in this specific field, as well as being a former prosecutor for almost 10 years, our firm enjoys a good working relationship with judges and prosecutors in San Diego County and beyond. These forged relationships help the firm develop arguments that resonate with a particular prosecutor or judge based on past experience.
There is no doubt that my clients benefit from my experience as a former Domestic Violence Prosecutor.
There are so many reasons why:
It allowed me to take in a volume of cases. As a trial deputy of almost a decade I reviewed thousands of cases. I had to assess the evidence. I had to negotiate these cases. These cases ranged from Domestic Violence to DV related felony three-strike cases. Many private attorneys handle a limited amount of cases (especially if they are a small or solo firm). I have handled thousands of cases due to being a former prosecutor. We have now added to that experience with successfully handling cases as a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney.
We know how to communicate to the prosecution when there are issues in a case. There is a chain of command in a prosecution office. You need to communicate with the person that makes the ultimate decision to get the results you want.
We fight. This firm knows from being former prosecutors and now defense that a formidable defense attorney is one who tries to resolve a case but is just as ready to head to trial if it is the best for the client. The judges and prosecutors respect this straightforward approach from an advocate.
This firm knows how the government works on Domestic Violence cases in San Diego. Knowledge is power. We often know their actions ahead of time. This allows us to communicate an effective strategy to our clients.
These are a few of many reasons why you should look into retaining a former San Diego domestic violence prosecutor.
5. Does the firm utilize a PROACTIVE defense?
There is so much you can do between now and the initial court date. Many Domestic Violence cases never make it to court if you take the necessary actions. So many attorneys will wait for the court date to begin their work. Our goal is to see if a San Diego Domestic Violence case gets dismissed before coming to court.
6. Has the attorney tried almost one hundred jury trials? If not, how many have they tried? Have they conducted hundreds of motions and hearings? Have they handled thousands of cases?
So many attorneys talk about being aggressive. In the end…ask how many trials they have done. I have spent my entire legal career in criminal law. Our firm sets trials when needed.
7. Does the attorney have an office?
I can understand working from home sometimes. Today, Regus and other companies offer attorneys a “virtual” office meaning it gives the illusion that someone has an office while in actuality someone works from home. However, would you go see a doctor who worked from home? The same goes for an attorney. A lawyer’s office is a place to meet and confer with clients over very important, serious, and delicate issues. It is a location where you can aggressively advocate for your case. There is no substitute for an office. I make sure my office is convenient, private, and available for my clients.
8. Does the attorney offer expungement as part of the services?
Our firm offers the following:
If a client goes to trial, expungement is free (with the hope we win the trial). If the client resolves the case early we have a locked in price.
Expungement is the last phase of a Domestic Violence case. It is when you clear it from your record and have truly moved on. Make sure the attorney or firm knows how to properly handle expungement. If the charges get dismissed before court, we then work on getting the arrest modified and turn the arrest into a detention.
9. On the question as to why not use a Public Defender?
We know this is not on an attorney checklist per se, but it is a frequent question that is asked in Domestic Violence cases. It is a very good question that we can answer.
We have known several great public defenders in the course of my career (one of our team was a Deputy Public Defender). As a former prosecutor, this firm dealt more with Public Defenders than the private defense bar. The Public Defenders here in San Diego are good, but they tend to juggle very large caseloads across a broad spectrum of crimes by the very nature of their job. A public defender handles almost double the amount of cases a private attorney carries. It can be difficult to get in touch with them because they are often in court all day. In some cases, they will not be as prepared for the technicalities complicating your Domestic Violence case.
Also, if your case is Domestic Violence or a misdemeanor, the Public Defender assigned to your case may have less than 2 years experience.
When you are facing the harsh, potentially life-altering consequences of Domestic Violence charges, you should ensure your lawyer has the experience, confidence and resources to defend your case comprehensively. It is a worthwhile investment.
You also need to prove that you cannot afford a lawyer to qualify for the services of a public defender. When you are assigned one, if you can prove indigence, you will be assigned the same public defender as all of the other indigent defendants who have cases in court that day. Your case will be one of many. I will ensure that your case gets the attention, care and vigorous defense you deserve if you retain our services.
Contact the Premier Domestic Violence Law Group at 619-752-3702 now for a free case evaluation.