Should I hire an expensive attorney?

I am facing 3 felonies – 2 are Class III for manufacture and possession of magic mushrooms, the other is a Class V for possession of marijuana. I have the option to hire an attorney for $2000 through my college. She is smart but doesn’t have a lot of experience with my charges or my county. On the other hand, I have talked to other attorneys who seem much more familiar with my situation but who would charge $5000, plus another $5000 for trial.

Asked on October 25, 2011 under Criminal Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Cost is not a factor--or at least, in theory, it's not a factor; I've known $150/hour attorneys, for example, who've done a much better job than $450/hour attorneys. The issues are:

1) Experience--while in theory, any competent lawyer can work on just about any matter, there's a huge difference between someone who knows what he or she is doing and someone who's learning on the job. You want an experienced criminal defense attorney, and that includes experience with your specific charges--defending against drug charges is different from white collar crime or domestic violence, for example.

2) Familiarity with the players--less important than the above but still helpful is having a lawyer who knows the prosecutor, the judges, etc. This can inform what tactics to take, what the weaknesses of a case  are likely to be, what arguments the court will be sympathetic too, etc.

3) Your rapport with lawyer--you will have to work closely with the attorney to mount a good defenese. If you don't like him or her, or don't communicate well, that will impair your defense; and conversely, a good rapport (not being friends, but working well together) will help  it.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.