What to Look For in a Rochester NY Criminal Defense Attorney
If you need surgery, you can probably find an instructional video on YouTube and do it yourself. However, performing surgery on yourself is typically a very bad idea. Similarly, if you face criminal charges in Monroe County, and you are out on bond, you can face them alone, but that’s usually a really bad idea. If you Google a term like “Rochester NY criminal defense attorney,” you will see thousands of results. It’s very hard to evaluate them based simply on the website’s look. So, as you begin your research, here are some things to look for, both on the attorney’s website and during your initial consultation.
Overall legal experience is important since there literally is no substitute for experience. Law school teaches people how to think like attorneys, but only practical experience teaches people to fight like attorneys.
But overall legal experience is not enough. Let’s return to the medical example. If you have chest pains, a general practice doctor could probably help you. But, in that situation, most people would prefer to see a cardiologist.
Legal experience is the same. If you were charged with a crime, you probably need a Rochester, NY criminal defense attorney, and not a lawyer who drafts wills.
Most people have probably heard of Robert F. Kennedy, the brother of John Kennedy. When RFK was assassinated in 1968, Sirhan Sirhan was charged with the crime, and the late Grant Cooper defended him. Cooper was an accomplished attorney, but he was not a criminal defense litigator. Many people think Cooper was not as aggressive as he should have been, and that may be one reason why Sirhan Sirhan is still in prison to this day.
Criminal law is not like other areas of law. It requires passion and dedication to the principles of criminal defense. Without that passion, your attorney will not be very effective. So, it’s important that your lawyer is dedicated to criminal defense. This area of practice cannot be a sideshow.
Lack of dedication usually also means a lack of experience. If a lawyer only handles a few criminal cases here and there, the attorney is probably unfamiliar with all the substantive and procedural laws.
At the same time, there is strength in diversity. Therefore, if an attorney practices other areas of law other than criminal defense, that’s usually a good thing. Many criminal defense attorneys practice in other areas of litigation, such as family law and personal injury. While not identical to criminal defense, these areas are similar.
As a rule of thumb, an attorney should practice at least 50 percent criminal law. If that’s not the case, it may be a good idea to keep looking.
Your lawyer needs to be close to your home or office. Driving across town just to see the lawyer may work for a little while, but that commute will get old very quickly. If your attorney has multiple office locations or is willing to visit you offsite, that’s even better.
A lawyer should also be accessible by phone, instant message, or some other secure communication channel. If you have questions, your attorney should be able to provide answers.
If you visit a new restaurant and see an empty parking lot, you might turn around and go somewhere else. The opposite is also true. If there is an hour wait for a table, you might try the restaurant down the block.
Similarly, your lawyer should be busy. A lack of clients probably means that the attorney is inexperienced or not dedicated to the craft. At the same time, your lawyer should not be overly busy. If you wait more than a few minutes, the lawyer may not have enough time to devote to your case. Or, the attorney may pawn off most of the work onto a paralegal or associate.
Contact an Aggressive Rochester NY Criminal Defense Attorney
Choosing the right lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you’ve ever made. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester NY criminal defense attorney, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. Home and jail visits are available.