HOW TO CHOOSE A CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER

I think it is fair to say that every job, occupation, work, company and profession has learned that it must advertise to stay competitive. Advertising on the radio, television, newspaper and Internet are now accepted in each line of work. It is impossible to turn on the TV without seeing a medical ad, or drive past a billboard that doesn’t have a medical advertisement. We have several generations now that get most of their information from advertising. But when you see an ad, how do you know that you get what is advertised? This is the question you must ask yourself.

If you are in criminal trouble it may be one of the most difficult times of your life. A criminal conviction can lead to years in prison, probation, large fines and court costs, restriction on your freedom, loss of state or federal benefits, and other negative consequences. How do you find a lawyer who is experienced, knows the legal system and people, and cares about you as person and problem. This is a lot to ask but by no means impossible.

There are many attorneys working in Mississippi. While Mississippi does not recognize any specialities in law, there are many attorneys who focus their attention and legal skills in limited areas. There are still “general practitioners” in law, just like there are general practice doctors, or family doctors. But when you are dealing with an event as important as a criminal charge and the loss of liberty, a general practice lawyer may not be the best way to go. In fact, finding someone who truly knows criminal law would seem the preferred or best choice. I see ads by lawyers all the time talking about how experienced they are in criminal cases. I heard from a client recently about a lawyer who told the client he had never lost an appeal. This was funny to me because I knew he had never handled an appeal so I guess he was being honest. He never lost because he never handled one.

Law has over the years developed a business side to it. When I started law practice in 1980 I believe lawyers then looked at our work as a profession. You needed to be able to run a business, but law was not looked at as a business first. Now i see instances where I think the attorneys are running a business instead of providing a personal service to a client in need. I suppose this works in many areas of the law, but in the area of criminal law the stakes are just too high. Who wants a part time attorney handling a criminal case where the outcome could send a man or woman to prison?

Coxwell & Associates advertises so people will be familiar with our name. But our best clients, and most of our clients, come from word of mouth. Clients that don’t know about us who ask their family or friends always get a positive answer about our skill, experience, and dedication to our clients. If you don’t know a lawyer or how to choose a lawyer you should do some investigating. To often I visit with clients who hired a lawyer solely because he/she was the cheapest, only to find out the lawyer has no criminal experience. Our website lists cases we have handled. We don’t just say we do something, we show you what we have done. In the past we represented the Mayor of Jackson. Years ago we handled a case for a Miss. Supreme Court Judge. The senior partner has handled over 18 death penalty cases. He has handled some of the bigger cases in Mississippi. Other lawyers may talk about their experience, but can they show it. In order to investigate a lawyer one just needs to Google him/her. This is a good starting place. Ask people in the community. Almost everyone knows a lawyer, and many people may want you to use their lawyer friend. But someone’s lawyer friend may not be the best choice for your problem.

The final thing that you may wish to do when choosing a lawyer is to visit him/her at the office. Meeting someone face to face can be important when picking the right lawyer. Still, you have to be careful. A lawyer may have a super personality but very little experience. I believe the most important things to look for are these: (1) Has the lawyer been practicing for a sufficient length of time; (2) During the time in practice has he gotten criminal experience in trials and appeals; (3) Is he or she well known in the community; (4) Does the attorney have confidence and care about you as a client. (5) Does the attorney answer all your questions with patience and understanding. If you follow these guidelines I think it will help you chose the right lawyer for you.

Coxwell & Associates is a name recognized across Mississippi as a leading law firm when it comes to defending people charged with crimes. Merrida is past president of the State Criminal Defense Associations and a graduate of the famous Jerry Spense Trial Lawyers College. He has been recognized for over ten years in a row as one of the best lawyers in the country by the publication The Best Attorneys. If you need help in a criminal case you will find that the name of Merrida (Buddy) Coxwell is mentioned as a leader in the criminal law field.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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