4. Hiring a "New" Attorney
Simply having a license to practice law does not mean that a lawyer is competent to handle every type of case. At the same time, more years in practice does not necessarily mean that an attorney is better. However, there are minimum levels one must reach in the legal practice before they become proficient. Would you hire a doctor to perform surgery who had only been licensed to practice medicine a few years ago? There is a certain amount of real world courtroom and professional experience that must be demonstrated before you can place something as important as your future in the hands of an attorney.
If a lawyer starts telling you they know how radar works and they are going to convince the judge that radar is junk and unreliable, that is a pretty good sign you are talking to a greenhorn. You should ask the lawyer how many times they have made that argument to a judge in the jurisdiction where you are charged and what the results were. New lawyers fall into the trap of thinking that every argument they come up with is unique and has never been made before. By making a foolish argument, a lawyer may walk you right into a reckless driving conviction.
Less experienced newcomers may market themselves extremely well despite their lack of legal experience. Do not be taken by pretty marketing materials or gimmicks like claiming to be “certified” to read radar or laser calibrations. Ask any attorney you consider how long they have been admitted to a state bar (any state).
Moreover, you should ask the attorney how many cases they have tried before a jury. In short, the number of jury cases a lawyer has tried is a good litmus test for their level of courtroom experience. Reckless driving cases do not start out as jury cases, but can proceed to a jury if things do not go well in the general district court. Only the most experienced lawyers have substantial jury trial experience. If the lawyer you are talking to has handled more than 30 cases before a jury, they are likely to have substantial court experience. Why? For every one case that makes it to a jury, there are likely another 50 that the lawyer handled before a judge that did not make it to a jury stage. This is not a hard and fast rule, just an approximation. However, if the lawyer says that they have never tried a jury case or tried only a few jury trials, you are talking to a very inexperienced attorney – even if they claim to have handled many reckless driving cases.
Continue to Part D of this article.
Call 703-556-0004 or email through the Contact Us page to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Fairfax Virginia reckless driving lawyer Kyle G. Manikas . Mr. Manikas will analyze your Fairfax case from the perspective of a former prosecutor who has an inside understanding of the Fairfax system you will face.