Georgia has more lawyers than almost any other jurisdiction in the country. There are almost 33,000 licensed attorneys in the Peachtree State. That’s roughly 31 attorneys for every 10,000 residents. At first, pretty much all these lawyers seem the same. They all cherry-pick the highest ratings to highlight on Google and they all tout their experience in criminal defense. However, upon closer inspection, there are some important differences.
In case you’re wondering, New York is number two with 92 lawyers/10,000 residents. Washington, D.C. is at the top of the list, or at the bottom depending on your perspective, with 765 lawyers/10,000 residents.
Choosing the right Marietta criminal defense attorney might be the most important decision you ever make. The direct and collateral consequences of a criminal conviction, even a misdemeanor, are often debilitating. An attorney with all the qualities we discuss below can often successfully resolve even the most difficult criminal cases. This resolution could be a not-guilty verdict at trial, a favorable plea bargain agreement, or a complete dismissal of charges.
Mostly because of the burden of proof, criminal defense is not much like family law or another litigation area. In criminal court, the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. Since that’s much higher than the evidence requirement in civil court, the approach is different in criminal court.
Therefore, as the old saying goes, there really is no substitute for experience in this area. In fact, many law firms compensate their lawyers based almost entirely on their experience.
However, years of experience can be deceptive. Some Marietta criminal defense lawyers practice law for years and almost never go to trial. Almost all criminal cases settle out of court. That’s usually a good thing. Out of court settlements give the defendant more control over the outcome and usually end a very unpleasant experience much earlier than it would otherwise end.
But there is a big possible downside. Attorneys often retreat into plea closets. Instead of thoroughly preparing as if the case will go to trial, they take the prosecutor’s first settlement offer.
So, during the evaluation process, don’t simply go by years of experience. Ask the lawyer about her/his trial record and preparation philosophy.
As mentioned, criminal law is a unique area of law. The best Marietta criminal defense attorneys have a passion for this kind of work. Not all lawyers, even experienced ones, share this dedication. Their clients often pay the price.
When Sirhan Sirahn was charged with Robert Kennedy’s 1968, assassination, the judge appointed the now-deceased Grant Cooper to represent him. Cooper had outstanding credentials. In the early 60s, Cooper was President of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
But Cooper was more of a general practice lawyer. He was not dedicated to criminal law. For example, he represented former child star Shirley Temple in her split from B-movie actor John Agar.
Therefore, Cooper might have missed some weaknesses in the state’s case. For example, there were some discrepancies between the eyewitness testimony and the physical evidence of the coroner’s report. These inconsistencies might not have been enough to change the outcome of the trial. Then again, they might have been.
By the way, one of the latest Kennedy conspiracy theories is that Cooper threw the case so the District Attorney would not indict him on some unrelated gambling charges. Given Cooper’s extensive pedigree and experience, that theory seems pretty unlikely. But stranger things have happened.
All this being said, there is strength in diversity. Most people do not want to entrust their futures to a one-trick pony. Experience in other areas, like personal injury, gives a Marietta criminal defense attorney insight into issues other lawyers might miss.
Have you ever been curious about trying a new restaurant, gone there one evening, and saw the parking lot was empty? A lack of customers is usually a bad sign. There is probably a reason it’s not a very popular place.
Perhaps you’ve had the opposite experience. If you go to a restaurant and must wait two hours for a table, it is usually better to go elsewhere. No one’s spaghetti is that good.
Roughly the same rules apply to lawyers. If the attorney has few criminal clients, that usually indicates a lack of experience and/or a lack of dedication. If the opposite is true, there is a good chance the lawyer will treat your case like an order for a Whopper. You are little more than a number.
On a related note, very busy lawyers often assign much or all of the work to less-qualified associates or even non-lawyer assistants. Therefore, you are not getting the experienced, dedicated professional who you think you are getting.
This final area is rather subjective. The good news is that it’s also the easiest area to evaluate. If your Marietta criminal defense lawyer is experienced, dedicated, and accessible, the attorney probably has a clear vision for your case.
Sculptors often say that they can see a work of art inside a slab of marble, and they must simply chisel away the edges to expose it. An attorney’s vision for a case is something like that. Once a lawyer evaluates your case and identifies all defenses, the lawyer should also see the most favorable possible resolution and aim for it.
If you were charged with a crime, you need the best possible Marietta criminal defense lawyer by your side. At the Phillips Law Firm LLC, that’s the kind of partner you will find.