Find the Best Criminal Defense Attorney For Your Case

A person charged with a crime, particularly for the first time, may be in a real quandary. How do they find the best criminal attorney for my case? Many people will have family members or friends who know lawyers but is that the best attorney for their case? The Internet is saturated with attorneys claiming to be experts but how reliable are their websites? This article briefly outlines some of the factors you want to consider in choosing a criminal defense attorney.

  1. Find an attorney with experience. See how long the he or she has practiced law. Ensure they specialize in criminal law. Examine their website and pay particular attention to the types of cases he or she has handled.
  2. Hire an attorney with jury trial experience. Asked the attorney how many jury trials he or she has conducted. An attorney with jury trial experience provide you with the greatest opportunity for an acquittal if you are not guilty or if the prosecution cannot prove their case; and, the maximum leverage in negotiating a plea in a case in which you are guilty. Judges and prosecutors know those who are not afraid to try a case; those that carry the most respect and are offered the best dispositions for their clients.
  3. Ensure that the attorney has tried your type of case. Some may only specialize in murder cases; that is all they do. They may not be the best for your drunk driving or your drug case. Be sure that the attorney you have selected has successfully defended a case similar to yours.
  4. Make sure the attorney you are hiring will be the attorney who handles your case. If you go to a large law firm you may speak to a partner who specializes in your type of case; however, that partner may pass your case to an associate with less experience. Be sure the partner will be representing you in court.
  5. Look for a professional website. A successful attorney will have a professional looking website. If the attorney is a professional he will carry himself that way in all respects, including the way he presents himself to you, in the courtroom and on his website.
  6. Asked another attorney. Attorneys in private practice know attorneys who specialized in all fields of law. If you have a family attorney that handles your real estate or probate matters that attorney can probably identify an excellent criminal attorney.
  7. You get what you pay for. It is not always wise to find the cheapest attorney. Attorneys with little or no experience will often charge far less money than those attorneys with experience. Some attorneys will take a case with no intention of considering a trial. They will review it with the sole intent of having you plead guilty; the attorney should explore all avenues, including motions to dismiss, motions to suppress and trial, before having you change your plea to guilty.

Excuses People Use to Avoid Making a Lasting Power of Attorney and Why They Are Wrong

Setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a must in today’s society. But despite this, many people do not have anything in place should the worst happen and they need someone to step in and manage their finances and well being for them.

A Power of Attorney is a document that allows someone you nominate to step in and manage your finances should you not be mentally capable of doing so.

Losing our capacity is not something any of us like to consider a possibility, however it is something that can happen to anyone and we should all be prepared. A few cost effective actions now can save a great deal of time, expense and emotional upset at a later date. As if you lose your capacity without having a LPA in place then your next of kin will have to go down the route of obtaining a guardianship which is a long and very expensive process.

Again, despite this being basic fact many people still make excuses not to put a Power of Attorney in place.

Some of the excuses that I have heard include:

I’m to young to need a Lasting Power of Attorney, those are for old people.

No, they are not, you’re never to young to need a LPA. When people think of losing capacity most of us think of elderly people with dementia, however losing capacity is not something that just happens to the elderly, and there are other ways besides dementia to lose our capacity. There are many ways to lose your mental capacity, an illness, a road traffic accident, a medical accident/negligence, or an assault are just some of the unfortunate events that can lead to a loss of capacity and these can happen at any age.

Lasting Powers of attorney give to much power to other people

No, attorneys cannot do whatever they like. You nominate your attorneys and hopefully that means you would nominate someone you would trust, and if you fall out or have a mishap in the meantime you can amend your Power of Attorney anytime before it is registered. You can also set limits on what your attorneys can and cannot do in the document. If you don’t want them to be able to sell your home for instance then you can stipulate that. As well as you having control of what the attorneys can and cannot do via the document you sign, the attorneys are also bound by laws to always act in your best interest and there are repercussions if they fail to do this.

If I make a Lasting Power of Attorney I have to register it right now, I’ll wait until it is needed.

No, it is entirely possible to write and sign a LPA but keep hold of it until you want to use it. This is because in order for a LPA to be used it must be registered, until it is registered it is just a piece of paper. So, you can make one when you are in your 30’s and not register it until you need it in your 70’s. Waiting until the LPA is needed is very dangerous, as you cannot make a power of attorney when you have lost capacity

In order to make a power of attorney the person making it must have capacity. They must be able to understand and agree to and what they are signing.

A Lasting Power of Attorney doesn’t last forever so what’s the point

There are different types of power of attorney, LPA are permanent, but an Ordinary power of attorney is not. An ordinary Power of Attorney is a document that you can set up to allow someone to look after your affairs while you are not able to, if for example you are out of the country, or unable to leave the house, or are in hospital for a while. This document gives someone else authority to act on your behalf. It is only valid while you still have mental capacity to make your own decisions about your finances. You can limit the power you give to your attorney so that they can only deal with certain assets, for example, your bank account but not your home.

I can only have one attorney and I don’t want to choose, it will cause fights in the family

No, you can have more than one attorney. The role of attorney is difficult at times and there is a lot of responsibility. So you can spread that about by having more than one attorney. This is called a joint attorney. You can appoint any number of attorneys in the same lasting power and you can specify if they can act on their own separately or if they must act jointly and come together. You can have them act jointly on some issues such as sale of property but have them act singly on all other issues there is a lot of flexibility and it is entirely up to you.

It’s too expensive to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney

It might have been expensive at one point in the past but these days it really isn’t. you can hire a solicitor to do this for you at a fixed fee, usually a couple of hundred pounds. Or you can have a go at it yourself using the government website which guides you through the process by asking you basic questions and completing the form on your behalf. It then provides you with instructions on how to sign the document to make it compliant with the regulations.

As you will have noticed the excuses people have for avoiding a LPA are simply untrue. The majority of people do not have a LPA waiting in the wings simply because it is one of those jobs that is often put aside for later, dismissed as unnecessary or considered too expensive.

You should now have a much clearer understanding of why a Lasting Power of Attorney is essential.

Three Lessons on Durable Powers of Attorney

Durable Powers of attorney are an essential ingredient in a complete estate plan, which allow for continued financial management in the event of incapacity. Under a durable power of attorney, an attorney in fact makes financial decisions on behalf of the principal. The attorney in fact can be given broad and sweeping powers. Conversely, powers granted by a durable power of attorney can be limited to particular assets or powers. Accordingly, the level of control given to the attorney in fact should reflect the particular requirements of the estate as well as the principal’s comfort with a broad grant of authority. In this article, the author teaches three lessons on effective execution and implementation of durable powers of attorney.  

First Lesson: Why would I Need One Now?

The legality of durable powers of attorney stems from the law of agency. Under agency law principals, an individual with capacity may give an agent powers-to contract, to represent the principal or to revoke or amend a trust, for instance. In the case of a non-durable power, the agency terminates upon the principal’s incapacity. Durable powers survive incapacity, but the principal must have capacity at the time of execution in order to effect a valid power.   Accordingly, executing a durable power of attorney for financial management should be done prior to incapacity.

Waiting until one becomes unable to coherently express one’s wishes with regards to financial management decisions is too late, and a court-appointed conservatorship may become necessary. What about the successor trustee designated in my trust, or the executor of my will? Would they be able to step in? Since the principal does not die at incapacity, only an attorney in fact designated under a properly executed power of attorney may step in to make financial management decisions. A last-minute durable power of attorney executed during incapacity would not survive a court challenge, however expensive or damaging the result.

Second Lesson: Consider making the Power Immediately Effective

Often, unwary estate planners will execute “springing durable powers of attorney,” which only become effective upon the incapacity of the principal. Incapacity is determined according to a test set out in the power, such as a determination made by a medical doctor or a court rendered decision. But who wants to go through the expense, difficulty, and uncertainty of initiating a legal procedure to determine incapacity? Isn’t one of the goals of estate planning to prevent unnecessary expense and delay? Moreover, doctors frequently hesitate to make determinations of incapacity because of liability they may face.  

In most cases, a better strategy would be to execute an immediately effective durable power of attorney, which gives an attorney in fact the power to make decisions on behalf of the principal without any finding of incapacity. Many are fearful of an immediately effective power of attorney, reasoning that no one should be given such power over their financial affairs unless they are totally incompetent. If they have such a lack of trust for the attorney in fact, why are they executing a power of attorney in the first place? One would think that even more trust would be required when the principal is incompetent and has little influence over the attorney in fact. Finally, simple measures can be taken to avoid disasters before incapacity. Consider sealing a copy of the durable power of attorney in an envelope labeled “do not open until my incapacity.” In addition to oral instructions, this can help to avoid the scenario of a run-away attorney in fact who uses the power of attorney to access financial accounts before incapacity.  

Third Lesson: What powers should the Attorney-in-Fact be given?

The powers given to an attorney in fact depend upon the principal’s desires and the particular concerns that stem from the types of assets held. The durable power of attorney should be coordinated with the will, trust and advance health care directive to ensure that they do not contradict each other. Namely, should the attorney in fact have the power to create trusts? To rescind or amend existing trusts? Should the attorney in fact have a power to make gifts to himself or to others? These powers can help ensure that preparation for long term care (medical) or tax planning can take place even after incapacity.   Before executing a power of attorney, individuals should be fully informed of the powers that they are granting, and the possible consequences of such sweeping grants of power. In all cases, it’s best to consult with an attorney who can advise on specific risks.

Conclusion

Durable Powers of Attorney are one of the five essential documents in estate planning discussed in this article series. Unlike a will or trust, which mostly deals with decisions that are made upon one’s death, the durable power of attorney deals with life-time financial management and estate planning questions. Individuals should be aware of the risk in waiting to execute the power of attorney; the hazards of “springing” powers; the range of powers that can be given to the attorney in fact; and the risks associated with a sweeping grant of authority to the attorney in fact.   —

This article is intended to provide general information about estate planning strategies and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney. Treasury regulations require a disclaimer that to the extent this article concerns tax matters, it is not intended to be used and cannot be used by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law.