How to Choose the Right DUI Defense Attorney
You probably know it’s to your advantage to hire an experienced Jacksonville DUI lawyer if you’ve been charged with driving under the influence. A DUI conviction can be costly and carry long-term consequences. Depending on the specifics of the charge, a conviction could mean jail time, or even a felony criminal record. Still, choosing the right DUI defense lawyer may seem challenging.
Here’s how to find the right DUI defense attorney for you.
Where to Look for a Jacksonville DUI Attorney
Most people start their search for an attorney in one of two ways: by searching for lawyers online or by asking friends and family for referrals. Either approach can be effective, but each is only a first step. To find the right criminal attorney for your case, you’ll need to gather more information. One of the best ways to do that is to take advantage of a free consultation with the attorney you are considering.
Additionally, as you read law firm websites, browse reviews, and talk to attorneys, here are some key things you’ll want to look for:
1. Does the attorney have specific experience with DUI defense?
This is particularly important if you’re relying on a referral from a friend or family member. Many attorneys take on a range of different types of cases. But, they aren’t necessarily equally skilled and experienced in each of them. As such, you may not want to hire the lawyer who handled your best friend’s divorce when looking for an attorney to represent you on a DUI.
You’ll want to make sure that the defense attorney is not only experienced with first time DUI cases but also with addressing the issues raised with aggravated DUI cases. These potential aggravated DUIs, include DUIs that resulted in serious bodily injury or death. Attorneys who have experience with enhanced or aggravated DUIs will not only understand the complex issues on which your case hinges, but will also know where to look for potential issues with the prosecution’s case against you.
2. Does your Jacksonville DUI lawyer have experience with DUI trials?
While the vast majority of criminal cases in Florida resolve through some type of negotiated agreement, the specifics of such an agreement can differ significantly from defendant to defendant. This can even be true for defendant’s charged with DUI in spite of the fact that DUIs carry a litany of mandatory minimum penalties. Now you may be wondering how it would be possible to get a better deal if the law requires defendants to be sentenced to certain mandatory minimum penalties. But the answer lies in a defense attorney convincing the prosecution to amend the charge from a DUI to a different criminal offense. However, the State of Florida is unlikely to even consider such an amendment if they know that your attorney is too scared to take your case to trial.
The best DUI attorney for you will be one who is willing and able to pursue plea negotiations, file and argue pretrial motions, and if it’s in your best interest defend you at trial. One good way to make sure your attorney is prepared for whatever serves you best is to ask about their criminal trial experience.
3. Does the DUI lawyer have extensive experience in your local courts?
Knowledge of DUI law, negotiation skills, and courtroom experience are all important when selecting a DUI defense attorney. But, there’s another area of experience that’s also important: familiarity with the local court system, the prosecutor or prosecutors you’ll be facing, and the judge you’ll appear before. In other words, the best Jacksonville DUI lawyer is a lawyer who frequently handles DUI cases–and perhaps other criminal defense cases–in the Duval County courts.
Since DUI law is the same throughout the state, you may wonder why local experience matters. Some of the key reasons include knowing what to expect from local juries, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecutor, knowing how a judge is inclined to rule in certain types of situations, and familiarity with local court rules.
4. Are you comfortable with your attorney?
Of course, talking about an arrest isn’t likely to be an entirely pleasant experience, and you may be self-conscious about certain aspects of your story or anxious about the attorney’s response or the outcome of your case. Still, when your criminal defense lawyer asks you a question, you must be willing to answer it honestly and completely. One of the worst things that can happen in a DUI case, or any criminal case, is to have your defense attorney blindsided because you withheld information or weren’t entirely honest. As such, it’s vital to consider whether or not you’re comfortable with any attorney before you consider hiring them. Feeling comfortable with one’s attorney is a critical initial component to a healthy attorney client relationship.
Your initial consultation will give you an opportunity to tell your attorney about your situation and make sure you feel reasonably comfortable being open and honest about important matters.
5. Is your DUI attorney listening to you?
The right DUI defense attorney will know a lot about the law in Florida and how it relates to allegations of drunk driving or driving while impaired. Similarly such an attorney will also know about the possible penalties you face, the indirect consequences of a DUI, how the court proceeding works, and how to build the best possible defense on your behalf. But, such knowledge about the law is only part of the equation. Every situation is different, and different DUI defendants have different concerns and priorities. Furthermore, developing and maintaining a familiarity with the facts of a client’s particular case is essential to being able to best serve any client.
Said more plainly, you’ll want to work with an attorney who understands that you’re an individual with interests to protect and not DUI Case #367B. You’ll be able to tell a lot about how a DUI attorney sees you and how seriously they are taking your concerns during your initial DUI consultation.
Your Free DUI Consultation is the First Step
Not all DUI defense lawyers offer free consultations. But, attorney Matthew Lufrano knows how important it is for you to have accurate information as soon as possible after an arrest. And, he understands the need to talk with an attorney and learn more about their experience and approach to cases like yours before making a decision.
So if you or a loved one have recently been arrested for DUI or any other criminal offense you can schedule a free consultation with Lufrano Legal, P.A. right now by calling 904-513-3905 or filling out the contact form on this site. Not sure yet? Take a moment to learn more about Mr. Lufrano’s extensive experience fighting for the rights of people who have been charged with crimes in Florida and see the honors and certifications he’s received. Then, give us a call to talk about how we can help with your Jacksonville DUI case.
Since graduating from law school and passing the Bar Exam in 2009, Matthew Lufrano has practiced exclusively as a criminal defense attorney and his sole focus has been defending the rights of the accused. As a defense attorney, Mr. Lufrano has tried 75 jury trials to verdict and in 2017 the Florida Bar recognized Mr. Lufrano as a Board Certified Expert in Criminal Trial Law. Today Mr. Lufrano not only owns and operates Lufrano Legal, P.A., but he also serves as the President for Jacksonville’s local chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.