There is a saying in many businesses that is also mostly true in law. “It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.”
When it comes to hiring a criminal defense attorney, what they know is very important. In other words, you don’t want an inexperienced attorney on your case if you have serious charges. If you are charged with retail theft, UUW, domestic battery or anything else that can put you in jail, the best lawyer for you will have handled similar cases hundreds of times. In fact, the attorneys we recommend pretty much do nothing but criminal defense all day, every day.
So what they know is important, but it’s also important who they know. By that I mean you want a lawyer who regularly is before the Judges at the courthouse you will be going to and deals with the prosecutors there on a regular basis. Those relationships can be just as important as anything else in your case when it comes to winning and losing. While the prosecutors change on a regular basis, the Judges are often there for a long time.
Take the Markham courthouse for example. This south suburban Cook County court location hears a lot of criminal and traffic cases. There are 12 Judges there for those hearings. While a lawyer can’t be expected to have a great relationship with all of them, they should know them. They should know their tendencies, their moods, their courtroom clerks. All of those things play to your advantage.
It can be as simple as knowing that the Judge likes to get out early on Fridays so they can play golf. It can also be more technical such as knowing the types of arguments they favor or frown upon. In some cases it helps if your lawyer knows the attitude of a Judge on first time offenders versus repeat offenders. While none of this guarantees a result for you, all of these little pieces can be the difference between a good result and a bad one.
The Judges at the Markham courthouse have different personalities and look for different things. So if you have a case there and you hire a lawyer who isn’t there on a regular basis, you are not likely giving yourself the best chance for a successful case result.
And to be clear, a good result might not mean having the charges dropped. It could be probation instead of jail time or six months in jail instead of three years. What’s crazy is you will see similar people on the same day with similar charges get different results. Who their lawyer is can often be the reason why one person does better than another.
This is one of those facts about law that people think shouldn’t be true. They are probably right. If justice was blind, who you know wouldn’t matter. But we deal in reality and the reality is that if you want the best result possible, getting an experienced attorney who goes to the courthouse you will be going to on a regular basis means a lot. If you have questions or would like an attorney referral, call us for free at 312-346-5320.