TPD officers were recently sued by a colleague of mine, Kevin Adams, for forcing an individual to do push ups on the side of the road to avoid receiving a traffic ticket. Many people have commented on this case and have stated that because the individual was a convicted felon that he should keep his mouth shut and be happy he didn’t get a ticket. Now I don’t know if it is because I’m a criminal defense lawyer, I believe in the constitution or that I just simply have a different mind set than some people but I find this behavior by TPD to be completely unacceptable. Making someone do push ups on the side of the road is not only against police policy but it is also completely demeaning. What if this was done to someones daughter or niece or wife, would we read the same kind of comments that they should feel lucky they didn’t get a ticket, or would the public be completely outraged. We cannot look at the person that was treated in this manner, we must simply look at the action by the officer and determine whether those actions were right or wrong. In this case they were absolutely wrong.
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.