As a criminal defense attorney based out of Tulsa, OK I have seen first hand the money that the War on Drugs siphons away from our schools, healthcare, and other much more important programs. Oklahoma’s archaic drug laws cost this state millions, if not billions, of dollars per year. From the money that we pay officers to arrest non-violent drug offenders to the money we pay public defenders and other court appointed attorneys to represent these individuals to the money that it costs to incarcerate these non-violet offenders… this is the siphon. Most offenders charged with drug crimes are not gang or cartel members they are simply people with a problem yet we continue to incarcerate them at tax payer expense. These individuals are generally guilty of nothing more than simple possession and of making poor life decisions. Yet we lock them up at a staggering cost to the public and provide no treatment to try and battle the addiction that led them to prison. This stance insures that the person will most likely reoffend when they are released into the public in worse shape than when they went into prison.
The war on drugs takes money from education, road work and many other essential programs in the state of Oklahoma and around the country. If we were to decriminalize drugs, or at least make simple possession only a ticket and a fine, the siphon would end and our state would be better off financially than ever before.
A person facing criminal charges, whether they are felony or misdemeanor, has a very important decision to make and it is one that they may be betting their life on; picking an attorney to represent them. As a criminal defense attorney in Oklahoma I have seen time and time again where people simply go price shopping for a attorney and go with the lowest bidder, this is not a sound strategy when picking a lawyer. Remember the old saying “you get what you pay for”, well the same is true when picking an attorney. I’m not saying that you need the most expensive attorney in town but I am saying beware of an attorney who sets his prices well below other attorneys in his field. Many time these lawyers who set their prices low do so because they know they are going to sign you up for the first plea deal that the DA offers and it will require very little work on their part. This is not what you want when your life and/or livelihood is on the line. Here are a few tips when looking for a competent criminal defense attorney:
1) Look for an attorney who focuses on criminal defense. A common misconception in the public is that attorneys are competent in all areas of the law and that is simply not true. Most attorneys specialize in one or two fields and become masters of those areas of law in order to represent their clients competently in those areas. You will find attorneys that are jack of all trades but as the saying goes they are jacks of all trades and masters of none. I would want a master of his trade if my life or livelihood was on the line.
2) Don’t go cheap! Would you go out to a used car lot and tell the salesman you want the cheapest car on the lot? Of course not because you know you would get some car that wouldn’t make it around the block with out breaking down. So why on earth would you go cheap when your life depends on it? Go with a reasonably priced criminal defense attorney you’ll thank me for it in the long run.
3) Find a criminal trial lawyer. This is another misconception that the public has about criminal attorneys and that is that all of them can try cases. This is not true, in fact there are very few criminal defense attorneys who try cases and are competent in doing so. But hiring a trial attorney can benefit you even if you don’t want to take the case to trial. Prosecutors are much more likely to give favorable plea offers to trial attorneys because there is a real threat to the prosecutor of having to go to trial and possibly losing. Although a trial lawyer may be a little more expensive it will save you money in the long run.
These are just a few tips to hire a competent criminal defense attorney for your felony or misdemeanor matter but also rely on your instincts, if the lawyer your talking to doesn’t feel right for you then he probably isn’t and you should move on until you find one that you are comfortable working with.
As a criminal defense attorney in Tulsa, OK I have seen many disturbing actions and trends by local law enforcement but none bother me as much as their blatant disregard for the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. The 4th Amendment was designed to protect the citizens from unlawful intrusions by the government and is seen as a fundamental principal of criminal law. The right to be secure in our personal spaces and belongings is crucial to having a fair and impartial justice system, but that is not the way law enforcement seem to see it. Law enforcement, as proven by their actions in hundreds of cases a year, have no regard for the 4th Amendment rights of citizens and will trample on this right any chance they get if they believe the person whose rights they are violating is a “bad person”. The to compound the problem the only remedy that most individuals receive is the suppression of the evidence they obtained illegally and the cops that violated the law escape scott free without so much as a reprimand from the court or their superiors for their blatant violation of the law. Until such times as there are real consequences for officers who break the law and trample on the rights of citizens I fear that this trend will continue and the status quo of the the ends justify the means will remain and our criminal justice system, and individual citizens, will continue to suffer.