6 mistakes people make when hiring a criminal defense attorney

  • Never hire an attorney that cannot or will not provide you with a written fee agreement.  In Nevada, there is no standard way to charge criminal defense clients.  Some attorneys will accept a fee for just one court appearance.  Others will charge you a fee to negotiate your case, but that fee does not include a trial.  Others will represent you in limited aspects of your case; however, they will not assist you with everything necessary for complete representation.

This is your money and you life.  You need to know exactly what you are paying for.  Do not trust anyone that will not tell you this basic information in writing.

  • Do not hire the cheapest attorney just because he is the cheapest.  Other than by simply being an attorney, there is no qualification you need to claim you practice criminal law.  This means that someone can graduate from school, pass the Bar exam, and start their own criminal defense practice.  YOU DO NOT NEED ANY OTHER EXPERIENCE OR QUALIFICATIONS.  Or, let’s say an attorney has had a “general practice” for several years.  Maybe she has written letters to a homeowner’s association, drafted some divorces, and prepared wills for her family members.  Then the economy sours and she decides to practice criminal defense (because she heard it was an easy way to make money). 


If you really want to get an indication of whether a particular criminal attorney is any good, a good rule of thumb is to call him on the weekend and ask him if he can get you an O/R release (released from jail without posting bond).  If he doesn’t know this is an option or doesn’t have the contacts to accomplish this, RUN!  
Lastly, a bad, mediocre, or even average attorney can cause you far more harm than good.  This is your life, your time, and hard earned your money.  You shouldn’t need to worry about whether your attorney knows what he is doing.  

  • Never hire an attorney that fails or refuses to provide a receipt, and be very cautious of an attorney who does not accept credit cards.

The most obvious reason you do not want to pay an attorney who won’t give you a receipt is that there is no record of how much you have paid.  Do you really want to give your attorney $500.00 OR MORE in cash only to have him tell you that you never paid him and quit?  Honestly, if your attorney cannot or will not give you a receipt, do you really think he has the record keeping skills to keep track of your court appearances?  Any why doesn’t he want a record of your payment anyway…?    

You shouldn’t consider hiring an attorney that doesn’t accept credit card payments either.  Accepting credit cards is not a giant technological advance.  Do you really want to hire someone to keep you out of jail that is too lazy to fill out a credit processing application?  Or perhaps your potential attorney’s finances are so bad that they cannot accept credit cards as payment.  This is precisely the type of person you don’t need.

 I suppose the last objection an attorney could have is that they don’t want to pay credit card processing fees.  Really?  It is unbelievable to think that someone who actually cared for his clients wouldn’t give up 2% of his fee for the sake of helping someone desperately in need (especially when they had a valid way to pay for his services).  You can’t seriously consider hiring someone who would rather have no money, than 98% of what you were going to pay him.

  •  Never hire an attorney who contacts you first.  In Nevada, an attorney cannot solicit business from a person that the attorney knows needs legal advice.  You would normally think of this as an “ambulance chaser.”  There have been recent reports of Nevada attorneys reviewing local jail records and contacting the family members of inmates asking them for money to defend the inmate.  Not only is this unethical, it’s just plain lazy.  If the attorney is so desperate for business, why doesn’t he actually go to the jail in person?
  • Never hire an attorney that is just an advertising spokesperson and does not actually practice law here.  The Internet is full of attorneys with seemingly great credentials who promise to use their experience to defend you.  What they don’t tell you is that the attorney on your screen does not actually practice law in Nevada (or sometimes anywhere else for that matter).  These non-Nevada attorneys have a business whereby they fund advertising and split fees with local attorneys who actually perform the work. 

Sound good?  Not for you.  You need an experienced criminal defense attorney.  You don’t need a great advertiser.  Don’t you think it’s dishonest for an attorney to use his experience simply to lure you as a client and take your money, especially when he never even intended to actually work for you?   

And anyone who claims that they “only practice DUI defense?”  Lie!  Call the number and ask them if they will defend you against a charge of larceny.  I bet they will say yes…      

  1. Never hire an attorney who quotes you a fee without knowing anything about your case.  How can an attorney tell you what he charges without knowing how much work will be involved in your defense?  I believe that an attorney who charges a set price regardless of knowing what needs to be done for you tends to charge too much.  Or he has already decided the amount of time he will spend “defending” you, and it’s probably not much!  Besides, if he is too busy to speak to you and find out about your case before you hire him, imagine how you will be neglected once you’ve paid him.   

If you think your application was wrongly denied, call us to help you.  You have the right to hire an attorney to contest the sheriff’s decision.

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