Choose Your Criminal Attorney Wisely

Choosing which criminal lawyer to hire is a difficult process, but can be very important. The difference between a skilled lawyer and an incompetent lawyer can mean all the difference and in some cases, can be an actual life or death decision. Take for instance the recent case of case of Dontrell Deaner.

Mr. Deaner is on trial for a 2008 murder. His family hired New York attorney, Joseph Rakofsky to handle his defense. The attorney did such a poor job that Judge William Jackson, who was overhearing the case, ordered a mistrial and allowed Mr. Deaner to fire his attorney.

A declaration of a mistrial means the judge believes something has gone wrong with the trial and the only option is to terminate it without reaching a ruling. The prosecution is able to reinstate the case in front of a new jury at a later date if it so chooses. Because it means all the expense and effort of a trial is wasted, it is something judge’s typically try to avoid. For a judge to declare a mistrial based on an attorney’s incompetence is almost unheard of.

The judge indicated Mr. Rakofsky seemed to lack knowledge of court procedures. He also thought that Mr. Rakofsky’s opening statement was rambling and at points irrelevant to the case. He was also surprised when the attorney told jurors that this was his first trial. Not only is that an improper statement, but he thought it was unfathomable for someone’s first trial to be as serious as a murder. Obviously a murder trial in an unfamiliar jurisdiction is not the place for on the job training.

What should someone look for in hiring a criminal attorney? Obviously you want someone who knows a lot about the type of charges you are facing. Ask an attorney you are looking to hire about their experience in dealing with your kind of case. You also want to make sure the attorney is familiar with the jurisdiction where you are charged. Knowing the personalities of judges and prosecutors in the jurisdiction is about as important as knowing the law. Finally, make sure the person is held in high regard by his peers.

Getting this information can be difficult. There isn’t a valid rating system to compare attorneys. And simply comparing price can lead to similarly flawed conclusions. Start by reviewing an attorneys website and learning about their credentials. Where did they go to school? Where have they worked? What types of cases do they handle? How many jurisdictions do they cover? Meet with the attorney and discuss how they would handle your case. Anyone who makes promises or guarantees should be regarded with suspicion. No one can say for sure how a judge will rule. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask around about an attorneys reputation.

At the law office of Faraji Rosenthall, we only handle criminal cases in Northern Virginia. By focusing my practice on such a small geographic and narrow subject area I am able to develop an expertise that I otherwise wouldn’t have if my practice was larger. This narrow focus allows me to handle cases effectively and produce great results for my clients. If you are in the market for a criminal attorney, please call my office to discuss your case.