Selecting Counsel


When you or someone you care about has been arrested or charged with a crime, you need to find the right criminal lawyer to fight for your rights. 

The First Question to Ask Yourself:

“Am I in the right place?”
Criminal Defense Lawyer Cheektowaga NY
Much like choosing a doctor, the lawyer you hire should be an expert in his/her field. You should trust your lawyer, and you should trust only an expert. When someone is facing a criminal record and possible jail time, it’s as serious as surgery! You wouldn’t hire a family doctor or an urologist to perform brain surgery; you would hire a brain surgeon or neurologist.

When someone’s future is at stake, you should be comfortable that the person whose advice you are going to follow gives this type of advice as the focus of his or her practice. You should trust that he or she has been confronted with situations similar to yours. You should trust that he or she has done this kind of work on a regular basis. You should believe that he or she has studied the field of criminal law and devoted a significant portion, if not his or her entire practice, to the Criminal Justice System.

A “jack of all trades” is most often not a master of any. Therefore, don’t always be comfortable with an attorney simply because you recognized his or her name from an advertisement. And you should also beware of attorneys who promise results or brag. Most importantly, don’t simply shop around for the cheapest retainer fee!

You’re in the right place if you trust the lawyer and believe he or she is an expert.


“Can the expert get the best possible results for his or her clients?”

When you are charged with a crime, the results of your case will be directly linked to who you hire. Experience, reputation, and respect from colleagues will equal sound advice and acceptable results.

For most people, including some attorneys, the Criminal Justice System and Criminal Courts are unfamiliar territory. You are retaining an attorney to guide you through technical rules, procedures, and laws. Just as important, your lawyer will be dealing with personalities within the system also.

Other lawyers, police officers, prosecutors, and judges all play a role in your case. Results require navigation through all components of the Criminal Justice System. Your lawyer should not only know the law, the prosecutors, and the judges, but also be known by the prosecutors and judges.

As previously stated, you should always trust your lawyer and his or her knowledge of the law, but you should also trust that he or she is respected in the courts, by the prosecutors, and by the judges. Other players in the field define an expert as much as their resume does.

For example, if you’ve noticed a lawyer’s name from the news media as often being associated with tough cases, you can assume that the judges whom assign the attorney, or those who retained him, knew something. Good lawyers are on the tough cases. A familiar face from the news is more important than an advertisement.

Respect facilitates results in plea negotiation, trial rulings, and sentencing. You should feel comfortable that your lawyer knows where to turn and how to work you through the law and the personalities within the Criminal Justice System. You should trust him or her to give you his or her best effort and advice, even if it disappoints. You can be assured that respect from peers and expertise go farther than promises, bragging, discounted fees, or advertisements.

Results are always specific to each individual case and person's background. The key is being comfortable that your attorney is a respected expert in his or her field and who:

• Is in the best position to get an acceptable result; and
• Will do what is possible to get an acceptable result.

Many people charged with crimes don’t quite understand what it is they are paying for when they retain a criminal attorney.

You are paying for the same things that achieve results and you are paying for your attorney’s best effort to gain those results. You are paying for the reputation, respect, and expertise your lawyer has developed. You are paying for the years it took your attorney to develop this reputation, respect, and expertise.

You should not be concerned with hours logged on your case, how fast your phone calls are returned, or how long a court appearance lasted.

You are not hiring a babysitter, nor are you hailing a taxicab with a meter. Think of it this way: A cab driver may vaguely know the streets, charge you by the mile, and learn the streets on the job while you are paying the fare.

This is not what you want from your criminal attorney. You don’t want to be “taken for a ride” while someone learns on the job.

The cab driver may also know the streets like the back of his hand, but take you for a ride in the cab so that he can run the meter up, knowing that you are not familiar with the area.

You do not want this from your criminal attorney either. You don’t want to be taken “for this ride” either.

Your lawyer should be a trusted pro. Your fees are set on an expert’s opinion of how difficult it will be to get acceptable results in your case. These results are totally dependent on your lawyer’s expertise, experience, reputation, and the respect he or she has within the Criminal Justice System. You are paying to have the above applied to your case. This does not always transfer into hours that you can see being spent on your case.

You are paying for who your lawyer is, what he or she has done, and what he or she will do.

“You should communicate honestly and expect the same.”

Anything you say to an attorney is privileged. That means private—forever! Lying, fibbing, fudging, or distorting the truth will blow up in your face. Answer your lawyer’s questions honestly, even lawyers you consult with and do not retain are “sworn to secrecy.”

Don’t be concerned if your lawyer doesn’t ask all of the questions that you want to answer. An expert attorney usually has reasons for asking the questions. They usually point directly at issues that need settling at any given time. Your lawyer should only take the facts which are necessary at a given time and analyze them appropriately. You should feel secure that your lawyer can handle the truth surrounding those questions.

Experienced, reputable criminal lawyers will defend their clients to the best of their ability, regardless of guilt! Their job is not only to defend you, but also to defend the Constitutional Rights that apply to everybody. The presumption of innocence, the government’s burden of proof, and the concept of proof beyond a reasonable doubt must be defended in all cases.

Your case may be resolved by plea or trial. If you trust your lawyer enough to retain him or her, then you should trust the attorney enough to tell the truth. You should trust that the attorney will advise you to resolve your case in the best possible way—guilty or not—trial or plea. If your lawyer advises a plea, the advice is in accord with the review of the case. Your attorney is not trying to “sell you out.”

If you don’t communicate accurately with your attorney, the advice will not be soundly based. The most important rule to remember in communicating with your attorney and trusting his or her advice is that your lawyer’s job is not to tell you what you want to hear, but to advise you honestly. This means your attorney should be equally honest with you and consistent in the analysis of your case, and in his or her advice.

Remember, not every case is a winner at trial. Would you want to be told that your case is a winner when in all actuality, it is not?

“If my lawyer talks to me about resolving my case with a plea bargain, can I still trust that they are doing their best for me?”

More than 80% of all cases end short of trial. That means by a negotiated guilty plea. Your lawyer should be a respected, experienced trial attorney as well as a criminal expert. As previously stated, the lawyer who is respected by his adversaries (the prosecutors) get good negotiated pleas. The lawyers that judges respect often get more acceptable sentences.

The bottom line is this: sometimes a plea is the best option in a particular case. This should not be an issue of trust or effort. Your lawyer has a legal obligation to attempt to resolve your case this way and advise you whether or not it is the best option. Often, a negotiated plea is the best option.

When you go to trial, you are putting your fate in the hands of twelve people you don’t know: a jury. Usually they are from an entirely different world than you. This is always a gamble. A plea ensures a result without gambling with your future.

If an analysis of the facts, proof, and law, in your case, indicates that you should consider a negotiated plea, this is what you are paying for. If a sound analysis of your case indicates that the best option is a negotiated plea, then this is the advice that you should be given. Whether you take the advice or not, it is still an effort you can trust, even if the advice hurts!

There are “cop-out” lawyers who will not take a case to trial!

What really defines a criminal attorney is his trial experience and willingness to go to trial on the appropriate case. "NOBODY IS AFRAID OF A BULLY WHO WON'T FIGHT!"

In order to achieve results by plea or trial, a criminal lawyer is defined by his trial experience and skills. Many attorneys hold themselves out as criminal defense attorneys but have little or no trial experience. Beware of this!

Television and radio advertisements don't buy results or win trials. Many lawyers are businessmen who take fees, try to make deals, and when they can't strike a deal they refer the case to a real trial lawyer who actually will do a trial.

Skip the expense of a deal-maker and make sure your lawyer has taken multiple criminal cases to trial. It is a fair question to ask your attorney whether or not he or she has tried serious felony cases as a defense attorney, and how many.

Remember, most cases that go to trial are often more severe in nature or are tried because a plea was unavailable to a defendant with a prior record. This means that win/loss records don't define a trial lawyer's courtroom talent.

Lawyers who brag about a winning "record" usually shouldn't be trusted. Again, if you have been told, seen, or heard a lawyer's name in association with several difficult cases, chances are you can trust him or her. Experience speaks louder than any television, radio, or billboard ad, or bragging.

Lastly, remember that trials are complicated, time consuming, and expensive. You will get what you pay for and the amount of the fees should usually reflect the difficulty of the case.

Everybody’s case is the most important thing to them. A criminal lawyer is mindful of this. Still, everybody’s case is different and their circumstances dictate the result. Your lawyer’s goals should be as follows:
  • To keep you out of jail. Sometimes this is impossible, given the facts of the case or the client’s criminal record.
  • Protecting your criminal record. Again, previous criminal records and facts of the case dictate this result.
  • Damage Control. If a client’s case and record are such that he or she cannot be kept out of jail or a criminal record cannot be avoided, (some punishment and responsibility is required), then your attorney’s job is to keep your sentence and criminal record to a minimum.
Throughout the proceedings, your attorney is always responsible for protecting your Constitutional Rights. When you are charged with a crime, you need to be realistic, honest, and fair with your attorney and you will be treated with the same respect—if you have picked the right professional.
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