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Suppose for a minute that you live in San Diego, California. Someone in your family has just been arrested for a serious federal drug crime, importation of methamphetamine, “crystal,” into the United States at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
So what do you do? Not everyone has a friend who is a criminal defense attorney. And your instincts are that Uncle Joe, who obtained his law degree in correspondence classes, just won’t fit the bill. After all–this is not “My Cousin Vinny,” but reality.
If you are like so many people in the cyber age, you will run to Google. You are “not feeling lucky” so you probably will type a search like this into your browser,
“Best San Diego Federal Criminal Defense Attorney”
Voila, google works its magic and you have a list of local criminal defense attorneys. As you go down the list some of the websites look like you would be better off with “Saul”, from better Call Saul. Some are stuffy and pompous. And some of the attorneys tout themselves as “aggressive.” But wait a minute, this is not a boxing match, do I want an “aggressive attorney.”? How do I find the “best federal San Diego criminal defense attorney?”
My first tip is “Go with your gut.” Did the attorney ask you for a credit card number before he even asked for the name of your family member? Bad sign. Go meet the attorney. Better yet, have him meet the client. It is not unreasonable for the best attorneys to charge a fee to see a client especially if a drive is involved. Like an in demand surgeon, the best attorneys are busy.
Tip number two is Check the Attorney out on the California Bar Website. This will tell you how long the attorney has been practicing, if the attorney is a criminal law specialist, and very important, if the attorney has ever been disciplined.
Tip Number Three: Don’t let price be your only consideration. Most of us are on a budget even at the supermarket. But if you search and find the “cheapest attorney,” you are probably going to get a “cheap attorney.” Competent attorneys have a great deal invested in their careers and will charge a fair price for their services that might seem expensive to someone who has never had a family member accused of a serious crime.
Tip number four: Find an attorney who has handled the kind of cases before that you want the attorney to handle. You don’t want to select an experienced DUI attorney for a homicide case, however good the attorney is in drunk driving defense. Also, avoid attorneys who do not have several years practicing law because your case may be part of their learning curve.
Tip number five: Check the attorney’s online reputation. When you have the name of an attorney you are interested in, do a google search of that name. You will quickly have an idea of how long the attorney has been around and the attorney’s reputation in the community. Do not eliminate an attorney just because they have a couple of bad internet reviews. Unfortunately, those reviews could be from competitors or from a disgruntled client who has no reason to be unhappy with the services rendered.
A google search is a very good starting point to find the best criminal lawyer but should not be your ending point. Remember there are many very good attorneys who show up high in a google search and unfortunately some that are not so good. And there are many good attorneys who may not show up at all in a google search. Just vary your search words by a couple of words and you will see what a crap shoot it actually is to locate the best attorney just by a google search.