Charged With A Crime?

I recently saw an article that claimed that most people in the United States violate some federal law every day.  That is a sad commentary on the insane number of laws that we have.

Fortunately, most people are never charged with a crime other than things like moving violations in their car or parking tickets.

If you are ever charged with a crime, the most important thing for you to remember is that you have the right to remain silent!  This means that you do not have to incriminate yourself by answering questions that might tend to prove your guilt.

The second thing to remember is to not do something that will make things worse.  When people encounter the police and become belligerent or lie to the police, things often become worse.

A Criminal Lawyer Can Help Your Case

If your crime is more serious than a typical moving violation or speeding ticket, you probably should hire or at least speak to a criminal attorney.  Many people that are charged with crimes like a first time DUI or simple assault think that criminal attorneythey can just go to court and handle it themselves.  It is true, they can go and meet with the prosecutor on their own, but they will usually end up pleading guilty and then having that crime go on their record.

Your Criminal Record Matters

Oftentimes an attorney with experience in criminal court can get charges dropped or dismissed or can at least work to try to keep crimes off your permanent record.  At the very least a criminal lawyer can lessen the fines or other consequences you might face.

Many lawyers that specialize in the area of criminal defense offer free consultations.  If you are arrested, the police will tell you that you have a right to speak to an attorney.  You should take advantage of that right and at least seek a free consultation to see if a lawyer can help you with your charges.  While lawyers can be expensive, criminal charges are serious and often a lawyer is worth the expense.  Many attorneys also willing to work with you by offering payment plans.

The Practice Of Criminal Defense

When people think of criminal defense, they normally think of non-white collar crimes.  These type of crimes are the kind you see on crime shows on TV and that you run into every day.  Crimes like DUI, domestic assault, theft and illegal drugs.  The need for people to have access to criminal defense specialists is great.

criminal defense attorneyMost criminal defense attorneys handle everything from serious felonies to minor offenses like traffic citations.  There is some overlap into family law for some offenses like endangering the welfare of a minor and domestic violence.

Pretty much all crimes carry with them the possibility of some sort of incarceration and fines.  Because conviction of a crime can result in the loss of freedom, the constitutional protections provided for individuals is significant.  Constitutional rights like the right to remain silent and the right against unreasonable searches and seizures are very important for those that are charged with a crime.

What do criminal defense attorney’s do?

A criminal defense attorney works to make sure that their client’s constitutional rights are protected and that every possible defense is used to help their client.  For this reason, it is very important that a criminal lawyer is involved in the case as soon as possible as they may be able to “shape the battlefield” and possibly get charges reduced, dropped or have their client not charged at all.

If you need to hire an attorney for something like a DUI Defense attorney, you need to make sure that they have significant experience in that area of law.  Ideally you should also feel comfortable with your lawyer and sense that he knows what your major concerns are and addresses them to your satisfaction.

The cost of hiring a criminal lawyer varies.  Most lawyers will require that you pay the entire cost of their representation up front.  If you can’t come up with the money, they may accept payments, but in most cases you will need to have your lawyer completely paid before any type of guilty plea or verdict is reached.  The attorney does not want to have to chase a client for money once their representation has concluded and, practically speaking, it is hard to get paid from a client that is in jail.

Most criminal defense specialists also offer free consultations, so it is advisable to meet with a few of them, get to know them and understand the cost of hiring them.  It is not always the most expensive attorney that is the best, so on some level, you need to trust your instincts.

Choosing A Bankruptcy Attorney

choosing a bankruptcy attorney
Choosing a bankruptcy attorney when you can’t pay your debts

You’ve struggled to pay your debts.  Negotiating deals with your creditors has been a major focus of yours and now you don’t see how you can honor your deals or can no longer negotiate away their threats.  You have avoided bankruptcy, but now you see no other way out and are looking for a bankruptcy attorney.

Filing for bankruptcy is a very serious step so choosing a bankruptcy attorney is a very critical decision.

Tips on choosing a bankruptcy attorney

The first thing you can do is seek out organizations like the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys to find an attorney or law firm that is focused on only doing bankruptcy work.  You can also visit your state bar’s website to find a bankruptcy specialist.

Once you have found a few prospective attorneys or law firms you can start to schedule free consultations.  Most law firms will meet with you for free, give you their opinions and an estimate of price.

It is very important that you feel comfortable with the lawyer you eventually hire.  They should also seek to find alternatives to actually filing bankruptcy as that really should be a last resort.  Lawyers can often negotiate with creditors more effectively than the debtor can and they may be able to help you avoid bankruptcy and all of the side affects and adverse impacts that filing will do to your life.

The lawyer you hire should exhibit a passion for their work.  They should love the fact that they make their clients lives easier and help them become productive members of society again after a bankruptcy.

You should feel like the attorney is actually listening to you and that they care about your concerns.  You should feel like they truly have your best interests in mind when they advise you and that it is not all about money for them.

The cost of a bankruptcy attorney should not be the deciding factor

The price that they charge should be fair and competitive for your type of case.  This is why you should talk to a few law firms before pulling the trigger and hiring one.  The most costly attorney is not necessarily the best one and the cheapest one is not necessarily the worst, so evaluating them by price alone is not advisable.

 

Finding An Estate Planning Attorney

Do you really need an attorney to plan your estate?

estate planning lawLegal Zoom and other do-it-yourself legal form sites would lead you to believe that you don’t need an attorney to do a will.  While those types of websites and resources do have their place, for something as an estate plan, especially if it is even remotely complex or if you have young children, you really need to find an attorney that has experience in this area of the law.

The laws regulating the passing on of assets to family members or to anyone else vary from state to state, but they are still based in centuries of legal precedent and tradition.  Because the laws of a particular state do regulate the formation and administration of wills, you must be sure that the plan you make and the forms you use comply with the laws that will be used to apply or implement the estate plan when you are gone.

Templated plans that you purchase for a few dollars are only designed to cover basic situations and are meant to comply with the majority of state laws. If you are unaware of the unique requirements of your state, you can end up with a will or estate plan that has virtually no impact and the court will pass on your assets using the basic state law.  This can result in people not getting the assets you would want them to have and can also cause significant taxable events that a good attorney will plan around.  You want as much of your estate to be available for the people you intend, not the Government to swoop in and start grabbing your hard earned dollars.

What an estate planning attorney does

An estate planning attorney can also plan for the selling of assets, timelines, transfer of business interests, how to take care of your children, form guardianship’s and also prepare legally enforceable lists for the disposition of tangible property like collectibles or things of sentimental value that you don’t want your heirs fighting over.

A lawyer experienced in preparing comprehensive estate plans can also help you prepare for any tax consequences and minimize them and/or recommend an amount of insurance that will protect the majority of your estate.

Caring for spouses an minor children or grandchildren is often an important concern for people preparing an estate plan.  If you think through exactly what you would want to happen in the event of your death, your estate planning attorney can try to make that happen for you by protecting your estate and ensuring that it goes exactly where it needs to go.

So yes, to answer the somewhat rhetorical question posed at the beginning of this article, you really do need an attorney to prepare an effective estate plan.  When finding an estate planning attorney, you need to put in some effort and do some research!

The cost of a good Estate Plan

Many law firms have endeavored to make getting an estate plan more simple.  They have software that complies with their state law that helps them create the documents which has lowered the price and they can often offer you flat rates for will or estate plan creation.  Make sure that the fees and options are clearly laid out before you embark on this project with your attorney.  You should also make sure that the law firm you use will be around for a while because complex and basic estate plans should be reviewed periodically to ensure that they continue to comply with the law and that your financial or family situation is still covered with the current plan that you have in place.