Board Certified* 

 Criminal Trial

Lawyer

Thomas E. Cushman, P.A., Attorney at Law

RULES FOR CHOOSING A CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER
  1. You are not shopping for a used car.  It's not all about the price.
  2. One lawyer is not just like any other lawyer.  Florida Bar Board Certification in Criminal Law or Criminal Appeals means the lawyer has the experience, background, and subject matter knowledge to qualify as an "expert" in the field of Criminal Law.  It's not the same as getting a divorce, and it's not the same as a lawsuit about an auto accident.  Your future could depend on this selection.
  3. Experience does matter, but so does intelligence, initiative, diligence, and determination.
  4. Advertising means only that someone is willing to pay a high price to see their name in print or their image on TV.  It has nothing to do with experience, intelligence, initiative, diligence, or determination.
  5. Choose someone with whom you feel comfortable, because there may be very stressful times ahead.  You should feel confidence in the person trying to guide you through these troubled waters.
  6. "Connections" at the courthouse mean very little.  Unless the case is pending in a huge jurisdiction, most of the usual players will already know each other.  It is unlikely that a prosecutor is going to "give away" a case simply because they may drink with, or golf with another lawyer.  Remember that a prosecutor is engaged in trying to make or maintain a good reputation with the cops, judges, news reporters, and other prosecutors.  An important part of the job is to show the prosecutor weaknesses in the government's case.
  7. There will be a limit on how much work a prosecutor is willing to put into a case.  Most prosecutors are State employees.  They get paid the same, whether they work 80 hours a week, or 20.  Most of them have families, hobbies, and lives outside of the office.  Most (but not all) would prefer not to have to work 80 hours a week, and may, therefore, be willing to make a little better deal to avoid that extra work.  If the lawyer you hire is willing to go the extra mile for you, you may benefit accordingly.  However, to benefit, you must be looking to make a deal. (*NOTE: This rule does not apply if the case is "high profile", or the prosecutor is "on a mission from God".)
  8. Be honest with the lawyer.  Tell about the bad parts, too.  It's sure to be in the paperwork, anyway, so at least give the lawyer your perspective about the dumb things you said or did.  (Note that this is not the same as confessing to the lawyer.  There are times when the lawyer will not even ask the client about ultimate guilt, because of the client's embarrassment.  We know that many of our clients are guilty of something.  But it may not be what the government has charged.)  (There are many cases where the evidence that will be brought against you is really more important than whether or not you happen to be guilty.)  (For instance, in a drug case, the facts surrounding the search that revealed the drugs may be much more important than the fact that the client possessed them.)
  9. Be realistic about the outcome of the case.  In many cases, it will be fairly easy to get a sentence that involves probation.  Once that happens, that case is over for the lawyer.  In some cases, that may be a good result.  In others, however, most of the participants understand that it is very likely that the person involved will, sooner or later, Violate Probation.  In fact, it happens so often that insiders often refer to Probation or Community Control (house arrest) as the "Delayed Entry Program".

A Note About VOPs: A Violation of Probation (VOP) or Community Control (VOCC) is a separate proceeding, and is very different from a criminal trial.  You may not be allowed to post bond, and therefore often have to stay in jail until the court sets a hearing date.  And a VOP has a different, lesser burden of proof.  A VOP only has to be proved by a preponderence of guilt, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  And you do not get a jury trial.  Only the judge that put you on probation gets to decide whether you've violated.  And hearsay is admissible.  And your probation officer will tell the judge about every little thing you have done wrong since being placed on probation, and how much of the court costs, and costs of supervision, that you have not paid.  And chances are very good that you will then be sentenced to prison, and adjudicated to be a felon.  It is very important that you do not confess to your probation officer.  Remain silent.

To make an appointment with Tom Cushman call (904) 826-0220, send an email by clicking here, or use the Contact Form.

Thomas E. Cushman, P.A.
222 San Marco Ave., Suite C, St. Augustine, Florida, 32084
Phone (904) 826-0220 - Toll Free (800) 526-0220 - Fax (904) 826-0445
Office Hours: 9am - 5pm, Monday - Friday


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