Hiring an Attorney
If you know you are being investigated in connection with a criminal offense, especially a felony offense, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. First, by involving an attorney at this stage, the attorney will be able to give you advice as to whether you should make any statements to investigators or allow a search of your property. Remember that you do not have to give a statement to the police and any statement will be used against you. Likewise, unless the police have a search warrant, you have an absolute right not to allow the police to search your property. In addition, an experienced attorney, if called during the investigation stage, will often be able to: (1) obtain information regarding the investigation so that you can make intelligent decisions regarding how to proceed; (2) attempt to convince investigators and/or prosecutors not to go forward with a prosecution; (3) in state court felony cases, make a presentation to the grand jury on your behalf urging that it not return an indictment against you; and (4) make arrangements so that, if you are eventually charged, you can turn yourself in, so as to avoid being arrested at your home or work.
With both your liberty and reputation at stake, you don’t want to hire the wrong attorney. Do not make the mistake of hiring the lawyer that will charge the lowest fee. You should ask any attorney you are considering hiring: (1) Whether the attorney specializes in criminal law or is criminal law just one of the attorney’s many practice areas? (2) Whether the attorney board certified in criminal law? (3) How much experience does the attorney have with your kind of case? (4) Did the attorney offer to give you a fee contract that sets out the fee and what he or she will do to defend your case? (5) Did the attorney take time to explain things thoroughly and in plain English? (6) Will the attorney be available to meet with you and take your phone calls after you pay his or her fee? (7) Will this attorney farm out work on your case to associates or other lawyers?
Keep in mind that a good criminal defense attorney may be expensive but not every expensive attorney is a good criminal defense lawyer!
Learn more about this topic in depth on our board certification page Both Clint Broden and Mick Mickelsen are board certified in both criminal law and criminal appellate law.
There is a substantial difference between the practice and procedures in federal court as opposed to state court. Sentencing in Federal court is usually done according to complex sentencing guidelines. Generally Federal court is a much more formal legal environment than state court with many more procedural requirements. It also necessitates much more legal writing than state court. Consequently, in order to afford the best representation in Federal court a lawyer must practice in Federal court regularly. At Broden & Mickelsen, LLP, both of the partners each have spent at least half of their practice in Federal court for almost thirty years each.
Former prosecutors will argue that experience from “the other side” is a valuable asset. On the other hand, many criminal defense lawyers were trained since the beginning of their careers to develop creative defenses that might not occur to a lawyer with a more prosecutorial frame of mind. Defense lawyers that never worked for the prosecution also have no allegiances and may be more comfortable vigorously challenging the opposition. Although it is a generalization, we find that many former prosecutors, especially those that prosecuted for more than a few years and simply left a prosecution office to make more money, still think like prosecutors. They presume their clients guilty and are less creative in filing motions and setting forth defenses. Also, if you look at their “results” page on their websites, many of the “victories” they are claiming are actually victories as a prosecutor. There is a world of difference between a prosecutor obtaining a “guilty” verdict and a defense attorney obtaining a “not guilty” verdict. Clint Broden and Mick Mickelsen have been defense attorneys their entire careers.
This is often a difficult situation. Most criminal defense lawyers charge a flat fee and are reluctant to return the fee after it is paid. If you find yourself in this situation, you should start by having a frank discussion with the lawyer, after all the lawyer works for you. Tell the lawyer why you are not satisfied. You should also read your fee contract and you may suggest that the lawyer return a portion of your fee so that you can hire another lawyer. If the problem is significant, you should contact the State Bar Association at (800) 932-1900 to determine if the State Bar can be of any assistance.
When you hire a partnership, as opposed to a single lawyer, that means that all the partners in the firm have an interest in your case. Many times, you will find a lawyer who seeks to imply that they have associates working for them (for example “Smith and Associates”) when, in fact, they are sole practitioners. Other times you will find lawyers who appear to be part of a law partnership (for example “Smith, Jones and Miller”) when, in fact, they are simply lawyers who share office expenses but who work as sole practitioners. It is always interesting to us to look at attorney websites discussing “our” firm and what “we” do, when we know full well it is solo practice. It is a violation of Texas Disciplinary Rule of Professional Conduct Rule 7.01(e) for a lawyer to create the appearance that he has associates when he is a sole practitioner, or for a lawyer to create the appearance that she is a membership of a law partnership when she simply shares office space with other lawyers. At Broden & Mickelsen, LLP, Clint Broden and Mick Mickelsen are true law partners and share profits equally. In other words, when you hire Broden & Mickelsen, LLP, you are hiring a team. If you are in doubt as to whether a firm is truly a law partnership, you should ask the lawyer you are considering hiring.
Investigation is often a very important part of preparing a defense in a criminal case. A skilled investigator can often obtain information that could result in winning a trial or obtaining a more favorable plea bargain. Likewise, an expert witness can be invaluable in certain types of cases, especially in cases in which the prosecution has its own experts. During your initial meeting with your lawyer, you should discuss the need for an investigator to interview witnesses and possible uses for expert witnesses. It should be clear in the fee contract whether the costs of an investigator and experts are part of the fee to be paid to your lawyer or whether such costs will be additional.
Many “criminal” boutiques use associates (younger and often inexperienced attorneys) to help prepare cases for trial, review discovery, draft motions and/or draft briefs on appeal. Many times you think you are hiring an attorney only to find out you wind up dealing mostly with the attorney’s associate. Sometimes you will be told that the firm needs to hire other attorneys to help on search and seizure issues or sentencing issues and, in fact, Broden & Mickelsen, LLP has frequently been hired to assist other prominent lawyers on these matters.
At Broden & Mickelsen, LLP, we do not use associate or farm out your work to other attorneys. You will always deal directly with one of the partners and, many times, both partners will be involved in your case. It is very important that, before hiring an attorney, you get assurances as to whether the attorney you think about hiring will use associates on your case.
Broden & Mickelsen, LLP recognize that the practice of criminal law does not only take place from 9-5. It surprises us that so few attorneys provide their clients with their mobile telephone numbers so they can be reached in case of an emergency. At Broden & Mickelsen, LLP, our mobile phone numbers are on our business cards and prominently displayed on this website so you can reach us in case of an emergency
Please read our blog post – Selecting A Criminal Defense Attorney.