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A Complete Guide to Hiring a Juvenile Defense Attorney

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski
Trouble teen and parent pic

When minors or juveniles face charges, the consequences can have lifelong implications. The law treats juveniles differently and because of these unique differences, it’s important to have a lawyer that is experienced specifically in juvenile law.

Juvenile justice is a branch of law that focuses on handling cases of minors committing crimes. The processes are similar to the adult system, but it’s much more restorative. The justice system believes that youth criminals are more capable of changing their ways than adults.

Despite this apparent optimism, though, the juvenile justice system is far from perfect. Multiple studies have found ethnic and racial disparities, an emphasis on confinement, and many more issues. Thus, a guardian needs to find the right juvenile defense attorney to represent a minor accused of a crime.

Read on to learn some important tips for hiring a lawyer that will deliver the best outcomes.

Hire an Attorney That’s Local

There’s an old saying that “all politics is local”. The same can be said for the law. Every judge and every court is unique. They have specific operations and nuances that could have a direct impact on your case. So, knowing a judge and the court can be extremely beneficial to your case. You should prioritize hiring an attorney that’s familiar with the court, community, and judge where the juvenile case is filed. It’s also imperative that you choose an attorney who’s spent more time in your area over one that hasn’t.

Laws can vary from state to state and even city to city. A lawyer who’s unfamiliar with the local court will be at a disadvantage when it comes to a case. Even if the laws are similar and the case seems to be straightforward, a stranger to the court won’t be familiar with the people and nuances that play a role in the outcome of a case.

Many lawyers know the law. But that’s a far cry from actually practicing it in real time and having the local knowledge that may be critical for a case. For example, some judges are more lenient with juvenile drug possession cases than others, or a judge may have a family history of drug abuse, etc. These factors play a central role in how a judge may decide a case. A local lawyer who has these insights will know how to best position a client before the judge.

Not Every Defense Attorney Specializes in Juvenile Law

You wouldn’t hire a plumber to fly a 747. Seems like common sense, but when it comes to lawyers, many people mistakenly assume one size fits all. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most lawyers tend to focus on handling cases in a particular area of law. These areas can include tax law, family law, criminal defense, and others. Juvenile law is one of these areas.

Experience in a particular area of law gives a lawyer greater knowledge and expertise in that area. Like a local lawyer who knows the court, a lawyer who specializes in juvenile law will have a depth of understanding and know best how to proceed with a case. The more a lawyer works in a specific area of law, the better equipped they will be for a case.

In addition, cases in a particular area of law can ebb and flow depending on the political climate, local attitudes, demographics, etc. These intangibles can play a part in a case and a lawyer who specializes in an area, like juvenile law, can get a feel for how a case is likely to be decided. As lawyers get a lot more experience with certain court cases, they can discern a pattern. They should eventually be able to predict how a particular court case will go.

Get a Juvenile Lawyer With This Unique Background

What if you had a coach that knew the other team’s playbook? They would certainly have an advantage on game day. There are a select few defense attorneys who have experience on the other side of the bench. A juvenile defense attorney who has experience as a prosecutor is like having a mind reader on your side. These rare juvenile defense attorneys have a distinct advantage over other lawyers.

Prosecutors have a very tough job. They typically handle a heavy workload, are relatively underpaid, and face enormous pressure to wrap up cases quickly. It’s not an easy job and it requires a specific set of skills.

Few defense lawyers understand what it’s like to be a prosecutor. They lack the real-world experience of sitting in that role.

However, a defense lawyer who has experience as a prosecutor can be a game-changer in a juvenile defense case. They understand the pressure a prosecutor feels and can sympathize with their plight. They can also talk the language of the prosecutor and get a level of respect from the court for having been “on of them”.

Ultimately, the prosecutor and the judge will determine the fate of a case. Having a juvenile defense attorney with experience as a prosecutor can give you a distinct advantage.

Read Reviews… With Caution

It seems every business or product we buy has a review. But, like anything else online, fake reviews are a real problem. Reviews can give you a lot of valuable information about what it’s like to work with a certain attorney and/or law firm. Specifically, you can learn how polite, professional, and communicative a lawyer is toward his or her clients.

However, fake reviews undermine your ability to get honest information. Unfortunately, fake reviews are easy to create, publish, and can give a false impression. While there are some safeguards to prevent fake reviews, they are quite common in the legal business and there is little punishment if caught.

Fake reviews are especially problematic with larger law firms that outsource their online marketing and customer care to other firms. Larger law firms are focused on high volumes of cases and leave their online presence in the hands of other, sometimes less-than-honest, outfits that outsource even further. When the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, it can be a recipe for disaster- and dishonesty.

Still, there are some simple steps you can take to insure the reviews you read are indeed trustworthy. First, when talking with a juvenile defense firm, ask specific questions about a review you read online. Ask for details about that case and if they struggle to answer, you may want to think twice about the firms honesty.

Cross-checking reviews among different platforms is also a good way to gauge a law firms quality. AVVO, Martindale-Hubbell, and even Google reviews are good places to start investigating a juvenile defense law firm.

Firms who have large numbers of reviews might give the impression they are big, successful, or experts in the field. Don’t fall for the big numbers. High numbers of reviews is a common tactic to get better placement on search engines- but it’s also a warning flag of fake reviews. Be a smart consumer! A large number of reviews has nothing to do with the quality of legal services for your one case. Don’t be fooled by a lot of reviews- they could be mostly fake.

With careful research, you can find some great tips for spotting fake reviews.

Make Sure The Lawyer You Meet Won’t Hand Off Your Case

Beware the bait-and-switch when talking with a juvenile law firm. Large law firms are especially renowned for this bad practice. This is when you meet with a lawyer at a firm and after you sign on the dotted line, you discover that they’ve handed your case to another less-experienced lawyer in the firm or outsourced to another firm altogether. While this is a terrible practice, it’s sadly common among the largest law firms who are focused on getting alot of cases rather than focusing on quality representation.

Be sure to confirm the lawyer you meet will be the lawyer handling your case from start to finish. Get it in writing as part of your agreement if possible. You don’t want to find out after weeks or months that suddenly your case has been handed off to someone else. It’s not fair and it can have devastating results.

Potential clients can ask the consultation lawyer about the experience level of the lawyer that will represent them. If the new lawyer seems like a reasonable choice, the client should give that law firm a fair chance.

Understand The Cost and Payment Upfront

Most experienced juvenile defense lawyers will quote a flat-fee to handle a case. Some may offer payment plans depending on the circumstances. It’s not unusual for experienced juvenile defense lawyers to ask for at least 50% upfront to begin working on a case. There will be a lot of research, investigating, filing, and other work to be done at the beginning and will incur upfront costs to the firm from the start.

Flat-fee representation actually works in your favor because it give extra incentive to the juvenile defense lawyer to get the best possible result in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of work. Understand that experienced juvenile defense won’t be cheap. You’re paying for expertise and the best possible result. If the cost quoted seems high, you can ask how they came up with that cost and what you can expect. Like everything in life, you get what you pay for and you have to decide what is your child’s future worth?

Experienced Compassionate Juvenile Defense Attorney

Having a child in trouble with the law is incredibly difficult. The worry, stress, and emotional strain can take a toll on everyone involved. That’s why having an experienced juvenile lawyer by your side can make all the difference for your family and your child’s future.

Juvenile defense attorney Andrea M. Kolski has over 20 years of trial experience in Texas and Montgomery county. She believes every child deserves the best possible defense and handles every case personally. Her track record of success is second to none. Contact us today for a free case review and see how we can help.

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