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6 Step Guide to Picking the Best Divorce Lawyer for You

Divorce is scary. It is a big change. Your family is changing. Where you live is changing. In short, life is changing.

In those changing times, it’s often a struggle to know where to turn for help with the process. One of the common stories we hear about is people going through lawyer after lawyer looking for someone who understands their pain.

Divorce can be time consuming and expensive without the right lawyer. So in order to save time and money we have 7 quick steps that are designed to put you in the right state of mind when looking for a lawyer.

  1. Be Realistic

This is the most important thing. If you’re looking for someone to inflict pain on your ex and have someone listen to your complaints you might be better off in therapy then with a lawyer. Every time you talk with a lawyer the clock is running.

You want to call and spend an hour complaining about all the wrong your ex has done fine – but you’re paying for it. A better use of your energy would be discussions with your lawyer about what he or she needs from you to move the process along. Your lawyer will appreciate it and so will your bank account.

2. Interview and Research Potential Attorneys

Ask friends, family, and search on the internet for the names of lawyers who handle divorce. Once you have the names give each of them a call. How does their staff answer the phone? Do they encourage you to come for an office appointment? Do they sound sure about being able to handle your issue?

When you meet with the lawyer ask about their history, who they have represented, their rates, and client policies (i.e. does the lawyer provide monthly updates, etc.). Ask to meet associates and all others who will be handling your case.

3. Know What You Want

While most lawyers will not tell you this, you do not always need a lawyer. If your divorce is an uncontested one you can often hire a lawyer for a flat fee to work out the details with your ex. You can also go to mediation and work out whatever details in mediation. Those are less expensive options.

If you have a contested divorce know what exactly you want. A divorce is a negotiation you will have to do a little give and take in order to come to a resolution you both can live with. We often advise clients to always look at the big picture because getting caught in the weeds

4. Identify Atleast Three Different Lawyers

Not all lawyers are the same. We all might have the same license to practice law but not all lawyers have the same training and experience. Idealistically you should hire someone who specializes in family law. However, that should not be the end all be all with regard to hiring a lawyer. You need an attorney who understands the process, communicates, and negotiates well. This is important because most divorces and family law cases are a matter of negotiation rather than a full blown fight. Another thing to consider is whether or not the lawyer you hire is gifted at trial. If negotiations breakdown and trial is set its best to have someone who is battle tested and ready.

5. Meet with and Conduct Research on the Potential Lawyers

Give them a call. Ask about experience, the types of clients they represent, why they chose to do family law, their contact policy, etc. Not every lawyer will discuss all of these things on the phone and some may encourage you to come to the office for a consult. If you do meet with the lawyer also ask about their staff and the people who would be working on the case.

6. Make Your Choice

This one is the easiest and probably the hardest make it a choice.

 

Houson R. Lafrance

The Police Did Not Read My Miranda Rights Does My Case Get Dismissed?

We often get asked this question by clients. The short answer is no. The long answer requires a little more explaining and for our clients they appreciate knowledge.

Miranda rights are those constitutional rights that each of us has to remain silent (aka not have your own words be used against you in court) and to talk with a lawyer before answering police questions.

Miranda rights are invoked when an individual is in police custody only if the police want to question you. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the street in handcuffs or in the jail house they cannot use your statements against you without reading Miranda.

The exception is when a defendant randomly blurts out things without being asked any questions by a police officer. Those statements can be used against the defendant because the police did not solicit the response.

As a general rule getting statements suppressed do not get an entire cased dismissed. Instead what it can do it create leverage to get a better plea deal from the prosecutor. For example, I filed a motion to suppress statements in a Grand Theft case where the client was alleged to have stolen tires from an auto shop.

The State had a video of the incident (which was not the greatest) and the testimony of a witness who did not see the crime happen but who could place my client at the scene around the time the tires were stolen. My client was arrested when he returned to the store to return a defective product the same day.

The police arrested him and began questioning him without the benefit of reading him Miranda. When I got the police report it was clear from the report that Miranda had not been read and my client even told me it had not been. I filed a motion to compel discovery from the State for all evidence related to the alleged confession. The State advised me there was none so I filed a motion to suppress statements.

The plea offer prior to filing the motion was 24 months in Florida State Prison (my client had a long criminal history and had recently been released from prison). On the day of the motion the State offered my client time served on the felony, which my client took because he did not want to risk going to trial (even though in my opinion he had a great trial case).

If the judge had granted the motion the case would not have been dismissed. But the statements/confession would not be admissible at trial. However, the motion being filed made the prosecutor reevaluate her case and she realized that she might have not had the best case for trial.

 

 

Houson R. Lafrance