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Getting arrested can be really scary, especially in Chicago. Most misdemeanor charges can be punishable by up to a year in jail and felonies can put you away for a really long time.
The sad truth about being arrested is that having the right attorney in your corner can not only be the difference between winning and losing, but even in cases of obvious guilt can result in you avoiding any significant jail time.
Everyone wants the best lawyer for their case, but what does that really mean? Here’s our advice on looking for a criminal defense attorney in Chicago.
1. Make sure they are a former prosecutor, former public defender or worst case scenario have been doing nothing but criminal defense for at least ten years. It’s a high volume type of practice and when you have this type of experience there are very few scenarios you don’t know how to handle.
2. Make sure the attorney you hire appears at the courthouse you will be going to all the time. If you have a drug charge at the Grand and Central court, you want an attorney who can walk in and will know everything there is to know about the Judge and hopefully the prosecutor. Relationships matter.
3. Verify that they have a lot of experience with your type of case. While there are a lot of murders in Chicago every year, the truth is that very few attorneys have handled those cases as most are done by the public defender’s office.
4. Realize that the “best” attorney for one case isn’t the best for all. There is one great attorney we recommend for cases at the court at Harrison and Kedzie, 555 W. Harrison. He also does great work at 26th and California. But he doesn’t really do DUI’s, so if you were arrested for that and had to go to any of those courts or the Daley Center, he’d be the wrong guy for you.
5. Avoid attorneys who have to drive a long way to get to court. If their main office is in Rolling Meadows and you have to go to court at the 111th Street Courthouse, they probably aren’t the best choice for you. If court is at 9 a.m. and it’s a bad Chicago weather day, you don’t want to have to worry about them making it there on time.
Beyond all of this, I highly recommend that you talk up front about what the costs will be, what the best and worse case scenarios are as well as the most likely scenario. Ask them about the timeline, the strategy, what they know about the Judge. Be wary of attorneys that act like probation is a great result for a first time misdemeanor offense. You should want supervision if it’s possible to get this charge off your record.
As always, if you have any questions or want a referral, contact us at any time.