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1 HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT LAWYER LEARN HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT LAWYER AND AVOID THE MISTAKES MOST PEOPLE MAKE WHEN HIRING A LAWYER CHOOSING THE WRONG LAWYER IS LIKE THROWING YOUR MONEY AWAY Disclaimer: Ratek Group, Inc. is not dispensing legal advice and in no way represents any information offered as legal advice. No legal advice is offered from this information guide in any way, shape or form. You should consult a qualified attorney before making any legal decisions about your future. The information contained herein is meant for educational purposes and the results and the performance of the information is the sole responsibility of the reader. 1

2 2009 Ratek Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved. All material appearing in this educational guide is copyrighted material belonging to the Ratek Group, Inc. and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Copyright infringement will result in appropriate action being taken under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, Title 17, United States Code, Section 512(c)(2) ("DMCA") and other applicable intellectual property laws. No part of this guide may be reproduced, distributed, stored, or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission of the authors of Ratek Group, Inc. This guide is sold with the understanding that the authors are not rendering any legal or other professional advice. The information contained herein is merely information from a collaboration of people and is not considered expert. Any person following the information given in this guide does so at his/her own risk and cannot hold the authors liable for any outcomes that may result from them, criminally or in any civil case. The information is the sole opinions of the authors and nothing else. The authors are not representing themselves as attorneys in any way and this guide in no way constitutes an attorney client relationship. Published and Printed in the United States of America No previous editions. There are NO REPRINT rights with this guide. You are not allowed to distribute, resell or reprint this material in any way. Any violation will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If you obtained this guide from anywhere except the website please contact the webmaster and notify us as to where you obtained your copy. 2

3 Table of Contents TABLE OF CONTENTS...3 FOREWORD SHOULD YOU HIRE A LAWYER OR NOT?...4 CHAPTER 1 INFORMATION YOU NEED TO KNOW...6 CHAPTER 2 THINGS TO BE AWARE OF WHEN CHOOSING A LAWYER...9 CHAPTER 3 HOW TO AVOID SOME OF THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES CHAPTER 4 INTERVIEW QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO ASK SUMMARY

4 FOREWORD Should You Hire a Lawyer or Not? In this guide I am going to give you some valuable insight into DUI lawyers and our court system so that you can make a more informed decision about whether or not you want to risk not having an experienced DUI lawyer represent you in your DUI case. From my experience, within a couple days of a DUI arrest people start thinking about what costs they can cut to try and reduce the DUI costs and a lot of the time the first item to be cut is the lawyer because in most cases that cost is between $2,500 and $5,000 for a first offense charge, how much you will end up spending depends on where you live and how skilled the lawyer is when it comes to DUI defense. The decision to hire or not to hire an experienced DUI lawyer is yours and yours alone. I am not going to try and sway you one way or another; I am merely going to present to you some facts and information that you would probably never hear anywhere else. The number of people in this country each year that go to court to face a DUI charge on their own is staggering. Their reasons for making this decision are numerous: Yeah, I was above the legal limit they got me dead to rights. Why fight the charge I can t win. I can t afford to hire a lawyer. This can t be any worse then going to court over a speeding ticket. I ll just go to court and plead guilty and be done with this and get on with my life. Does any of this sound familiar? 4

5 Before you decide to take this approach, take some time and read the rest of this guide. Once you ve read the guide you will be able to make a more informed decision. 5

6 Chapter 1 Information You Need to Know Are you familiar with the term Expungement, no, don t worry most people are not. Here is a brief overview of expungement and why you need to be aware of what it is: Expungement: To erase, strike or blot out from ones criminal history. Expungement is what a person does who has a DUI on their criminal record and wishes to have it struck from their record. In essence it gives that person a clean slate. It s as if the DUI never occurred. A growing number of states will not allow a person to expunge a DUI from their criminal record if they plead guilty to a DUI charges. Trust me when I tell you that you are going to want to expunge your DUI from your criminal record once you are eligible to do so. More and more companies are performing background checks on people who apply for a job before hiring them. A DUI will show up on a background check and the majority of companies out there, frown upon anything they find when doing a background check. More and more landlords are running background checks on potential renters before renting to them. The same thing holds true here, a lot of landlords are not going to rent to someone with a DUI conviction on their criminal record. Two very good reasons why you want to expunge your DUI from your criminal record as soon as you become eligible. 6

7 If you are not eligible for expungement, don t worry. We cover how to hide your DUI conviction from prying eyes in the DUI Process Manual. People who defend themselves in court really have little chance of beating the DUI charge against them. The court system in this country frowns upon DUI cases and will impose the maximum fines and penalties on someone who defends themselves in court against a DUI charge just to teach them a lesson. In most states, you only have ten days from the date of your arrest to request a DMV hearing if you hope to retain your driving privileges. Failure to request this hearing will result in the DMV upholding the suspension or revocation period. Trying to navigate a DMV hearing without a DUI lawyer present is a no win situation. The odds of winning the DMV hearing on your own are slim at best. You will be required to carry SR22 insurance for a period of three years once the DMV reinstates your driver s license. SR22 insurance can cost as much as 3 to 5 times as much as your regular auto insurance. The only way to avoid the mandatory SR22 filing with the DMV is to win your DMV hearing. Your insurance carrier will immediately notify the DMV if you are even one day late with your SR22 insurance premium. This will cause the DMV to suspend your license once again and you will have to go through the SR22 filing process all over again. Even after the mandatory three year SR22 filing period (if the DMV upholds and sides with the officer in your DMV hearing) your insurance rates will remain higher than normal for a further 7 years. 7

8 Even if you expunge the DUI from your criminal record it will remain on your driving record for 10 years. Driving records cannot be expunged. In 10 years time the DMV will remove the DUI from your driving record, but no sooner. Insurance companies review driving records once a year before assessing insurance rates for the year. You may be beyond the 3-year SR22 period, but your DUI is still Present on your driving record. I know that s probably not the best way to start this guide, but I really feel that this is vital information that you need to be aware of because nobody else is going to tell you this until it is too late. I can tell you that most experienced DUI lawyers will charge a client around $300 to $500 to setup a DMV hearing and attend the hearing with you. If you value your driving privileges, I strongly suggest hiring a lawyer who has experience navigating a DMV hearing. 8

9 Chapter 2 Things to be Aware of When Choosing a Lawyer Public Defenders Not all lawyers are created equal If you qualify financially you will have the option of requesting a public defender to represent you in your defense. There are some problems with public defenders you need to be aware of though: 1. The reason most public defenders are in the job they are in is because they were not able to get hired by a real law firm. It s not that they are stupid people; it just means that they were not smart enough to be hired by a law firm or to open their own practice. 2. Public defenders specialize in nothing! They handle every type of case that comes across their desk. They are not experts in any area of law, especially DUI law; which many lawyers believe is the most difficult area of law to practice. 3. Public defenders are overworked and have no time to spend on preparing a proper defense in your case. 4. Since the court system is paying their salary, they are not given any additional funding to explore defense strategies for their clients. 5. You may never meet your public defender in person until the day of your trial. 6. If you decide to go with a public defender, be prepared to come up with your own defense and present it to your public defender before you trial date. Like I said, they have no time for you; the only thing they will do is plead you guilty to the charges against you and walk you through the system. 9

10 The bottom line is that public defenders are just general law practitioners without the money or competence. If you are using a public defender, don t expect any reduction in the charges against you, it s not going to happen. General Law Practitioners Never hire a general law practitioner to represent you in your DUI defense. When someone calls themselves a general law practitioner they are basically saying, I have a little knowledge about a lot of things and a lot of knowledge about very few things. General law practitioners know very little if anything about DUI law and DUI defense. So all they can really do is get you through the system without much skill, competence or quality results. The only difference between general law practitioner and a public defender is that the general law practitioner was smart enough to start their own law firm or to get hired by another general law practitioner. Once again if you hire a general law practitioner to save some money, you re actually wasting your money because you will not see any reduction in the charges against you and you definitely won t see a win. Nine times out of ten a general practitioner is just going to recommend that you plead guilty and they will move you through the system just like the public defender. Criminal Lawyers All criminal lawyers handle DUI cases and therefore have some knowledge about DUI laws. They do not know everything though. Hiring a criminal lawyer is better than hiring a general practitioner, however, in the end you may be shortchanged if the lawyer you hire does not have any DUI case experience. You do not want to be someone s practice case! 10

11 A criminal lawyer may know criminal procedure and courtroom tactics, but not the subtle nuances of a DUI case. If you have a chance of winning your DUI case, then a DUI expert is your best choice. If you want some DUI competence without wanting to seriously fight your case, then a lawyer, who specializes in criminal defense, but without much DUI case experience, is sufficient. Dump Truck Lawyers I know what you re thinking, What the heck is a dump truck lawyer? The term Dump truck lawyer is what lawyers call other lawyers who mostly just plead their clients guilty, instead of trying cases in court. Unfortunately, there are a large number of these lawyers out there. Here is how to spot a dump truck lawyer: 1. Any lawyer that you meet with that quickly leads the conversation into talking about plea-bargaining as the primary focus of the conversation is a prime suspect for being a dump truck lawyer. Unless there are several prior DUI convictions or a high blood alcohol reading involved. 2. Another sign of a dump truck lawyer is promises to get it all taken care of quickly with the least inconvenience on your part. Any lawyer who advertises No court appearances or No time off work needed is probably a dump truck lawyer. 3. One sure sign of a dump truck lawyer is a low retainer fee, either alone or coupled with a comparatively astronomical trial fee. Ask up front how much the daily trial fee is. A reasonable fee is between $1,000 and $2,500 per day. Such a fee is reasonable without primarily intending to discourage clients from pursuing a trial. 11

12 4. Beware of fast-talking lawyers. A fast-talking lawyer will try to pressure you into deciding right now. They only want your money. They are all flash and no substance. If you meet with a lawyer who is trying the hard sale method, walk away and find another lawyer. Dump truck lawyers often run DUI mills with a large number of associate attorneys. Or, worse yet, attorneys that are hired on a per-appearance basis, meaning they get paid maybe $100 each time they go to court. Another question to ask is how many trials each of the firm s lawyers tried in the past year. Though the number varies from county to county, a skilled DUI lawyer will try at least 6 to 10 or more cases per year and will win at least half of those cases. 12

13 Chapter 3 How to Avoid Some of the Most Common Mistakes Don t wait to hire a DUI lawyer The deck is already stacked against you. The police have already done an investigation into your case. The sooner you get started, the better your chances are. Don t attempt to handle your own defense You would not consider performing brain surgery on yourself would you? You can read all the books and information you can find, but the fact is that an experienced DUI lawyer has years of schooling and DUI case experience behind him. You can t expect to become an expert in a matter of weeks. Don t hire a DUI lawyer based on the fees alone Everyone wants a good deal, but sometimes the lowest price is not the best deal. We are talking about your future here. Get the best representation you can afford. Lawyers with lower prices tend to not have much experience with DUI cases or they do not intend to spend much time on your case. Do hire the best DUI lawyer you can afford Your chances of getting a favorable resolution to your case will improve if you hire the best DUI lawyer you can to represent you in your defense. Don t give up hope Remember to keep a positive attitude at all times and you ll make it through this. If you give up now, you have lost before you even start. Don t do that! 13

14 Chapter 4 Interview Questions You Need to Ask When you are looking for a DUI lawyer to represent you, I recommend that you speak with at least 3 DUI lawyers before you make your final decision as to who you are going to hire. Make sure that you ask them all the same questions that way you are comparing apples to apples when it comes down to experience, wins, etc. I know what you re thinking; I ve never conducted an interview before. I don t know what to ask. It s OK, breath. I m going to tell you exactly what questions to ask and why. Here are the most important questions you must ask: How many years have you been practicing DUI law? This will tell you a lot about the lawyer s potential experience right up front. You also need to dig a little deeper with this question and find out if all those years have been truly dedicated to the practice of DUI law or if the lawyer tries 1 DUI case every couple of years. How much experience do you have representing clients charged with DUI? Again this another experience question. You need to be able to leave the lawyer s officer confident that you have spoken to someone who has real expertise and experience in DUI law. Do you have real experience when it comes to handling a case like mine? You don t want a lawyer who sees your case as a new experience that they would like to try. You want someone with real world experience trying a case just like yours. You don t want to be someone s practice case! 14

15 How many DUI cases have you taken to jury trial? Your case might need to go to trial in order to get the outcome you deserve and it is imperative that your lawyer has trial experience. If the lawyer doesn t have trial experience, you probable need to move on to the next lawyer on your list. Who in your office will actually be handling my case and what are their qualifications? Most lawyers work with a team. The lawyer that you might be speaking with might not actually be the person who does the bulk of the work on your case. And if someone else is going to be working on your case, you are going to want to know who those people are and do they have experience working on a case like yours? Are you covered by a legal malpractice insurance policy? There is really no two ways about this. Your lawyer must have malpractice insurance. Malpractice insurance is just as much insurance for you as it is for your lawyer. Have you ever been disciplined by the State Bar? You do not want a lawyer with a long disciplinary rap sheet and you deserve to know if your lawyer has been disciplined in the past and why. What are all the potential legal costs, including your fees, investigators, experts, testing and the like? The DUI lawyer should be honest with you about what your case might cost. You want to feel secure that the lawyer is not luring you in with promises of unrealistically low fees and costs. What challenges do you see in my case? The lawyer should be able to explain to you what he or she sees as the challenges you face and what they could mean for the ultimate result in your case. 15

16 How will you keep me informed about my case? You must feel comfortable with the lawyer s commitment to communicate with you. You should know if you would really be kept informed of developments in your case. What will be the final outcome of my case? A good DUI lawyer will never promise you a specific result because it is always impossible to be certain of how a case will turn out. Any other answer is dishonest and unethical. A good lawyer can only promise to do his best job in defending you. This question is designed to weed out unqualified lawyers. If the lawyer promises you anything beyond doing the best job he can, move on to the next lawyer, don t hire any lawyer who makes false promises. Do you own a copy of the (insert your state name here) drunk driving laws? Any DUI lawyer who is good at what they do will have a copy of the state s drunk driving laws in their office and probably with in arms reach of where they re sitting. If the lawyer says yes, but doesn t actually have a copy in his office, he is probably not a good candidate for your case. This list of questions is not all-inclusive, but it will definitely assist you in choosing the right DUI lawyer for your case. I should also note that as you are interviewing each of the lawyers, you need to feel comfortable with the lawyer and not feel as if you are just a number to them and that they don t have time for you. If you don t get the impression that the lawyer is creative and sociable; then they are probably not the right lawyer for you, keep looking. 16

17 Summary Being informed about what is involved in DUI cases upfront will go a long ways to helping yourself when it comes to the interview process. If you did not purchase one of the packages that included our DUI Defense Strategies Guide, I strongly recommend that you pickup a copy of it to further your knowledge about DUI defense and the various strategies that could be used in your case. You can grab a copy by clicking here and scrolling to the bottom of the page. If you did purchase one of the packages that included the DUI Defense Strategies Guide, that guide combined with this guide will help you tremendously if you follow what has been laid out for you. For those of you who already have a copy of our DUI Defense Strategies Guide, lawyers will be amazed at the knowledge you have about DUI defense and they will know that you are serious about winning your case! P.S. To start contacting experienced DUI lawyers near you click here. All of the lawyers in our network are experienced DUI lawyers and they all offer a free initial consultation so that you can interview them and find out what your options are. 17

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