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Polinske & Associates, P.C.

How do I Choose the Best Criminal Defense Attorney to Represent Me?

You are arrested for a serious misdemeanor or felony.  You are taken to jail, processed, and (hopefully) bond out of jail.  You are worried about the impact the charge can have on your future.  Will you lose your job, family, freedom, and will you have to pay very large fines or costs?  These are all some of the questions most persons charged with a crime worry about.  Your next step is to choose a criminal defense attorney to represent you.  Questions you have about this process are:

1. How much do I have to spend  for an attorney?

2. How do I know if the attorney is one of the best in his field of practice?

3. How do I begin the process of hiring an attorney?

The first question is an important one.  You've heard the saying "you get what you pay for".  This is usually very true when hiring an attorney.  The most experienced attorneys typically cost the most too.  This is due to their large case load and time requirements.  The best attorneys know how much time need be devoted to a case to accomplish the best result.  As an example, I know how much time is required for a typical murder representation.  My fees are set accordingly.  I know many attorneys that will charge a small fraction of what I do for the mere fact that they won't thoroughly process the facts/evidence nor file the necessary motions.  Only those attorneys with the best case success actually understand the steps necessary to win the case.  This success only comes through much trial practice and experience.  If you want the best opportunity to win your case spend the money on a successful and experienced attorney.

The only way to know if the attorney you want to hire is the best in his field of practice is through his reputation.  Unfortunately objective reports regarding the attorney's successes don't exist.  I publish some of my successes on my web site.  You can access the local court's records (usually online) and do a name search of that attorney.  If they carry a heavy case load it is probably a good indicator that they are well respected.  If you have access to a family attorney who doesn't practice in the criminal defense area his/her recommendation is probably a good place to begin.  This sometimes doesn't lead to a good lead if the family attorney has a "friend" who dabbles in criminal defense.  So, you need to be careful when relying upon a family attorney's lead.  Ask the attorney questions such as "how many trials have you conducted?", "what is your success ratio at trial?", "have you tried cases similar to the one I'm charged with?", "Have you tried cases such as this in front of the judge and against the prosecutors I have assigned to this case?"  Your attorney should be able to point to specific cases and even by case number if need be so you can check with the circuit court to see if in fact he has done as he claims.   Run the attorney's name through a google search to see if any media articles return for trial successes.  One caveat to this is that oftentimes the media does not include the defense attorney's name when they win a case.  I have no idea why this is but such is the case.  For the more serious cases or high publicity cases the defense attorney's name is usually included.  

Lastly, you can either contact an attorney through his main telephone number, send an email request for information or even inquire with a letter (if incarcerated).  Most attorneys will respond in short order to your inquiries.  Most attorneys also do not charge for an initial consult regarding criminal defense.  


Brian L. Polinske
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Edwardsville Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer

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