It is important to understand that each and every individual criminal case in Virginia varies drastically. Defenses for one case may not be appropriate in the next and for that reason, it is vital to recruit the help of a dedicated and experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney to uniquely tailor a defense to your case.
Firstly, every client deserves a competent defense. We commonly get asked by non-attorneys and attorneys that practice in other areas of laws how we can do what we do on a daily basis, and how we represent people who know that they have committed offenses. Everyone deserves to have their constitutional rights protected and to have someone understand the circumstances of their case, personal circumstances, and any mitigating facts that should be considered prior to judging them.
Secondly, we approach every case as if it is our first case. We want to use our experience, but we also want to have a fresh approach and be able to come up with new ideas and creative approaches to get the best results possible.
Thirdly, we want to make sure that our clients know that their Virginia criminal defense attorney is the right fit for them. We try to do this through communication, being responsive to our client’s questions, asking them constantly if they have any questions or if they would like to know anything about their case, and explaining to them what is going on and why certain decisions are being made. We try to keep clients in the loop and make sure they are aware of what is happening in their case.
There are many common mistakes people make when choosing an attorney. The first is finding an attorney who is not committed to the criminal defense law. If they do wills, trusts and estates, or divorce cases for a large portion of their practice, and they don’t do a lot of work in criminal defense, they may not be up on procedures or local practice.
Another mistake is focusing too much on price. Just as the old adage says, ‘You get what you pay for,’ it is common for people to call a large number of criminal defense attorneys and simply price shop thinking all Virginia criminal lawyers are the same.
Lastly, choosing a defense attorney simply based on who a friend, family member or someone at work may have used can be a common mistake. It is truly a personal decision and you should feel free to exercise your personal best judgment in deciding which attorney is best for you.
The two most common questions we are asked are: What is going to happen in my case? How much will it cost?
The first one is the most common question we encounter during consultation or initial client discussion. It is also the most difficult question to answer. It is ethically irresponsible to give an overly detailed answer before having the opportunity to speak with the prosecutors, to speak with law enforcement officials and review the discovery of the case. It is like making a decision with only 50% of the puzzle. It is not a good idea and usually does not work out. We try to strongly resist doing this in any case, from reckless driving cases to serious felony matters.
The cost question is the common question that we get regarding what the fee structure is, and the answer varies on a case by case basis. We try to tailor fee arrangements and our fee structure to individual charges, individual circumstances and the individual and explain in detail of how we came up with that figure.
We try to set up expectations as well as preferred communications methods from an early stage so that we and the client are on the same page. It is important to remember that someone’s Virginia defense attorney is on their side, which is why open communication is so important. We ask the client a wide variety of questions, including what brought them to our office, what led to their encounter with law enforcement as well as questions such as where do they see themselves in five years, what are their expectations for the case, how do they prefer to be communicated with whether it be email, text or phone calls, and how often do they prefer communication?
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law