The Truth About Criminal Defense
Whoever first said, “Caveat emptor,” Let the buyer beware, must have been trying to find a criminal defense lawyer. No other profession or trade carries such random and varied ability amongst its “practitioners.” If you have carburetor trouble with your car, you can pay a premium for factory parts and a factory trained mechanic or you can hire a shade tree mechanic using second hand parts, but at the end of the day, with a little luck, you will be once again driving down the road. Likewise, if you are in need of an appendectomy, you can hire the most meticulous and skilled surgeon using state of the art equipment and the latest technology, or you can use a run of the mill general surgeon. You may wind up with a prettier scar with the former, but in either case, at the end of the day you should be minus one appendix and on the road to recovery.
Criminal defense is different, vastly different. The truth is most people claiming the title of criminal defense lawyer do not have the first clue what they are doing. Many have never tried a case. Even fewer have ever won a trial. So how then do you chose a lawyer to trust with your future?
Types of Alleged Defense Lawyers
Experience has taught me there are three main types or classes of defense lawyers vying for your business:
- Cheap at twice the price: These lawyers attempt to appeal to all of our desire to save a buck. If charged with a crime, your mail box is probably full of examples of“bargain representation.”
Felonies for $100.00, misdemeanors for $50.00. What they don’t tell you is you get what you pay for or what you don’t. No one can mount a serious defense to any criminal charge for that kind of money. You will find that there are “hidden” charges attached to most of these bargains. For example, many lawyers charge a fee every time they appear in court with you. The effect of this is to wear you down until you are more prone to accept a plea bargain just to save money. The consequences of low budget lawyers can be devastating to you. Cheap lawyers can be very costly to you and everything you value.
- The “well connected” blow hard. I’m good friends with…[fill in the blank] the judge, the DA…. Knowing people is not the key to freedom. “I used to be a DA,” is something to say when nothing else is true. Consistent, proven, results come from hard work, knowledge of the law and the system, and a commitment to excellence. Past results are the best measure of future competence. Friendships are nice, but they won’t keep your butt out of the pen.
- The thinking, caring and creative lawyer, which is what we strive to be everyday and the proof is in our results.
WHAT NOT TO RELY UPON
- Flashy Websites Mean Nothing
The internet has done a greater disservice to consumers of criminal defense lawyers than all other mediums combined. Companies like Findlaw have made a fortune creating very flashy websites, short on content but long on glitz. Videos and flash animation, fill the web like shiny trinkets to tempt the unwary. The internet allows anyone to look good regardless if they are in fact good.
- Bondsmen are not to be trusted
A lawyer recommended to you by a bail bondsman is not to be trusted. It is against the law for bail bondsmen to refer you to a lawyer. Many times kickbacks are paid under the table for your business.
- Cards in the mail belong in the trash
Good lawyers do not generally reach out to recently arrested people trying to solicit their business. Anyone with the cost of a stamp can send a mailer. Do not be deceived by offers of great discount rates like “Felony for $75.00.” Meaningful work cannot be done for peanuts. A ridiculously low fee is a good indictor that the work product of the lawyer charging it will be just as ridiculous as the fee is low.
- Do not pay your court appointed lawyer.
Some court appointed lawyers may suggest that your case would receive more attention if you paid them extra money. Inform the Court if your lawyer ever does this. It is unethical. Your lawyer should fight aggressively for your defense regardless of whether you are paying the lawyer or the County is paying the lawyer. In addition, many times when a person with an appointed lawyer makes bond, they are wrongly told by a Judge, their lawyer, or a bonding company, that if they made bond, they are deemed able to hire a lawyer. Unscrupulous court appointed lawyers may offer to switch roles and become your hired lawyer. Do not be tricked into believing that you must pay someone that was appointed to represent you. If you have the money to hire a lawyer, hire one. If you don’t, regardless of whether your bond was paid, you are legally entitled to court appointed counsel. You should ask the court to allow you to fill in a financial affidavit and have a hearing on whether you can afford an attorney.
- Lawyers with friends in high places
The internet is full of lawyers who wear their prior service in the DA’s office as if it were the keys to the penitentiary. While folks that served as prosecutors at least know their way to the courthouse, that is not enough to keep your freedom intact. Do not be deceived into believing that a lawyer has some special relationship with the prosecutors handling your case or that he can call in a favor for you. The only way to win a case is from a position of strength. A lawyer that has done his homework, investigated your case, interviewed the witnesses, gone to the crime scene, researched the law, and is fully prepared is your best chance to escape from the criminal justice system unscathed.
Ok, so how do I pick a good honest lawyer?
It is really just common sense, PAST PERFORMANCE is the best predictor of FUTURE RESULTS. Every win is nice, but what you should be looking for is a lawyer who year after year achieves CONSISTENT PROVEN RESULTS.
NORM SILVERMAN was sworn in as a lawyer in February of 1994. In 1996, he handled his first multi-kilo drug case: 2 kilos of cocaine in the backseat of the defendant’s car. The defendant’s prints were on the kilos. Tough case, right? Silverman never gave up, he investigated relentlessly to identify the government informant and finally the truth came to light: a crooked cop was manipulating informants and profiting from their information.Cop: charged, Case: dismissed.
Ever since then, Silverman has won at least one multi-kilo drug case every year. Many years, he has obtained multiple Not Guilty verdicts in one year. In 2008, he won the largest not guilty verdict in the United States of America in a federal drug case, 200,000 doses of MDMA and 25 kilos of coke: Nor Guilty on all Counts.
In the last year, Silverman has won dismissals on:
- 1,000 doses of ecstasy by proving that the ecstasy was not MDMA, but rather a designer drug, TFMPP which through diligent research, Silverman was able to prove is a legal substance;
- 3,000 pounds of marijuana when Silverman’s investigation revealed that the informant was using a false identity and was in fact wanted for murder. Informant: serving 20 years, Silverman’s client: Case Dismissed.
- 1 pound of cocaine defendant had two priors and was facing 25-99 or life: motion to suppress granted, Case dismissed;
- 4 first degree felony drug deliveries, 1 third degree drug possession, Defendant had a gun in his waistband and an ounce in his pocket when arrested, Case dismissed when Silverman’s investigation uncovered a dirty cop, Cop indicted, Case dismissed.
Norm Silverman takes no prisoners, if the truth is that a cop is lying, or in some way breaking the law, Silverman will investigate tirelessly to save his client and take down the cop.
Likewise, Daphne Pattison was admitted to practice in 1991, starting her career as an attorney in the United States Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. She was trained by the military to investigate thoroughly and fight aggressively for every client. She has an unheard record of two not guilties in capital murder cases. Each of those cases required tenacious advocacy. In one of them, shortly before trial, the State named a jailhouse snitch as their star witness. Ms. Pattison spent several days at the jail interviewing guards and inmates and the effort paid off with enough evidence that the snitch was lying to convince the state to choose not to call the snitch to the stand.
If you will take the time to confer with Norm Silverman or Daphne Pattison, they will show you in black and white a history of CONSISTENT PROVEN RESULTS, unequalled in this city.
This post is also available in: Spanish