Often, a drunk driving arrest is your first -- and hopefully only -- experience with the criminal justice system. That means you may not understand the ins and outs of DUI defense. You may not realize what will happen if you hire a family friend or the cheapest lawyer you can find. Or you may simply be overwhelmed by your options. When faced with a list of names, how do you choose the right DUI defense team?
There were 19,208 DUI convictions in Georgia in 2019. Of those, over 16,000 were first offenses. As a misdemeanor, driving under the influence (DUI) may not seem like something you need to worry about. But Georgia’s drunk driving penalties are some of the toughest in the nation. Even a first offense includes a mandatory 24 hours in jail, the completion of a drug and alcohol clinical evaluation and treatment, and a suspension of driving privileges.
Drunk driving convictions are expensive, and can affect everything from your driving record to your career. Don’t take a DUI charge lightly. Find the right DUI defense team to help you weigh your options and fight against a conviction that could change your life.
If this is the first time you have been charged with a crime, you may be in a hurry to find a lawyer. It may be tempting to settle for whoever you meet with first. But that could end up hurting your defense later on. Instead, walk into the initial consultation armed with questions that will help you know you’ve got the right DUI defense team on your side.
Some law firms do a little bit of everything. Their lawyers may meet with a DUI client in the morning and take a creditor deposition in the afternoon. General practitioners often lack the specialized knowledge needed to mount your best defense. Other firms focus their work on a few key areas, so their lawyers can gather a deeper understanding of the work they do. Drunk and drugged driving cases can be technical. Defenses often include legal procedure and flaws in the tests used by the police.
Ask your lawyer what percentage of their practice focuses on DUI and other types of criminal defense. The more time your team has spent on your type of matter, the better they will be able to identify the weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, and any defenses you may have. At Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia, DUI and criminal defense are our attorneys’, Lance McCoy and Jana Allen, top focuses. While we do handle other matters, our lawyers spend much of their time in Georgia state courts, helping residents defend against DUI and other criminal charges.
Beyond knowing what the firm as a whole does, you should ask about your lawyer’s experience in particular. A lot of the work in a DUI case happens right there in the courtroom. You and your lawyer may need to make decisions on the spot, without the luxury of being able to research an issue and come back to it later. That’s why it is important to hire a DUI defense team with experience specifically in Georgia DUI law. They need to be able to advise you about potential plea deals and defense options right away, so you don’t make the wrong choice.
Attorney Lance McCoy has over 25 years of legal experience, including decades of criminal defense work. Jana Allen has been working in criminal law for nearly two decades, including 17 years as a criminal prosecutor. You know you can rely on their knowledge of criminal law and procedure when it comes time to make a quick decision.
One question most people don’t think to ask during their initial consultation is where their lawyer usually practices. This isn’t about getting chummy with judges or getting access to some “old boys club”. However, If your lawyer has appeared before your judge and worked with the prosecutor assigned to your case before, they can better advise you about what to expect in your specific case.
Based in Cartersville, our attorneys serve clients throughout Bartow County, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Gordon County, Floyd County and Paulding County. Our lawyers are regulars in the local Superior Courts. Jana also worked for the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office and the Chattooga County prosecutor’s office. The DUI team knows the judges and prosecutors who handle these cases, so they can advise you about what to expect at sentencing, or if you decide to take the case to trial.
That raises another question for your attorney: how often do they go to trial? Some lawyers are quick to look for a settlement and assume that criminal cases will usually end in a plea deal. If they go into your case with that mindset, they could miss an important defense that could help you keep your record clean and avoid time in jail. Instead, you should look for a DUI defense team with real trial experience who are looking for defenses from day one and who will fully develop your case.
At Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia, we start every case with the assumption it might go to trial. This approach focuses the defense, and helps Lance and Jana seek out and develop defenses that can result in a not guilty verdict. Even though most DUI charges never go to trial, Lance McCoy and Jana Allen will help you weigh the defenses available to you in your case and decide whether you should take your case to the jury.
The larger the law firm, the harder it will be for you to know exactly who will be handling your case. Preliminary work may be handled by paralegals or clerks. It may be hard to get past receptionists and actually speak to an attorney. Sometimes, you may not have even met the lawyer who stands beside you in court. Be sure to know who specifically will be on your DUI defense team and how that team works together. Find out who you should talk to in the office, and who will be with you in court. Then make sure you get the answers to your other questions about those particular lawyers.
At Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia, we take a team approach to every case. Lance and Jana strategize with our paralegals to develop the best defense for each client. While you may speak with an assistant when you call, you can be sure that everyone on the team is working together to personally see your case through from beginning to end. Since both our attorneys are experienced DUI defense lawyers, you know that everyone involved in handling your case has the knowledge to do so.
Ready to schedule your own initial consultation and ask your questions? Contact us today to schedule an appointment with a seasoned criminal defense attorney, and rest assured that your case will be handled with unparalleled confidentiality, professionalism, and integrity.