Have you been arrested for the charge of operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI)? In many states this is called, driving while under the influence (DUI). It is a serious charge with serious consequences. In Ohio, a conviction can result in a jail sentence that can range fro three days to six months, a license that can be anywhere from six months to three years and fines ranging from $250 to $1,000. If you are facing this charge you may need help finding a good attorney.
Finding a good attorney may seem daunting but it does not have to be. There are some steps you can take to make sure you get the best criminal defense firm for your case and your situation.
How to Find a Good Lawyer:
Start with your friends and family. The best way to find any decent goods or services is to get a personal recommendations from the people you know and trust. In Ohio, one in seven people with a license has at last one OVI conviction. That is 1.1 million people. Given the large number of people who have been where you are now, the chances are good that you know someone who has used a DUI lawyer. They probably did not brag about it or tell everyone they know about it but they did. If you tell the people you trust what you are going through, someone will know of a good lawyer for you to talk to.
Talk to the state bar association. If you talk to the state bar association or go to their website, you should be able to get a list of lawyers who handle OVI/DUI cases. They are experts at helping people who need it in finding a good attorney. There are other professional associations that have lists of this sort of thing.
Talk to lawyers about their experience. Just like medical doctors, attorneys specialize. When you are in the process of finding a good attorney. you need to ask them about how much experience they have with OVI/DUI cases. Most cases never go to trial. More than 90% of all criminal cases are settled as a plea bargain. You want to know that your lawyer is very experienced at negotiating these kinds of deals and that this is not their first OVI/DUI case. You have too much at stake to go with an attorney who only handles this kind of case part of the time.
Talk to several law firms. Law firms typically offer a free first time consultation for new clients. This gives you a a chance to talk to several law firms and it gives them a chance to get to know you and your case. You need to be completely comfortable with the lawyer who will represent you in this matter. Here is a list of questions you should ask each law firm when you are working on finding a good attorney.
- How long have you practiced criminal defense law?
- Why did you go into this? You want a lawyer who is passionate about helping their clients and criminal law in general.
- What is your experience with this kind of case?
- Have you worked with this prosecutor before? What about the judge?
- If I go with you, who in this office will be working on my case?
- If I have questions and call, will I be able to talk to my lawyer or just their assistant?
- How long do you expect this to take?
- What resources can you devote to my case?
- What is your fee structure?
The last question is very important. Some law firms want a lump sum up front and others will allow you to pay over time. Some just charge by the hour. You need to know what you will be paying to determine what you can afford. Some people do not like this conversation but you need to have it and doing it before you hire someone is a lot easier than after they have done some work for you.
Being arrested for anything is very stressful and you may feel like your life is over but it really is not. Finding a good attorney is the first step in getting your life back.