Interviewer: When someone’s actually looking for an attorney to work with a DUI, what sort of credential or qualities should they be looking for?
Matthew Murillo: They should look and see what organization the attorney is a part of. There are several organizations that are dedicated specifically for DUI offense. With that dedication, they put on a lot of conferences, a lot of educational seminars essentially to help DUI attorneys that are members to expand their knowledge, expand the breadth of their representation and to help more people with more effective representation. Some of those organizations are the California DUI Lawyers Association and National College for DUI Defense.
It is Helpful to Check and See if the Attorney is a Member of an Exclusive Legal Organization
There are also other organizations that aren’t necessarily specifically tied to DUI but membership in those organizations does sometimes tend to be exclusive. If you have an attorney who is a member of those organizations, it generally means that they’re the real deal. They know what they’re doing and they’re experienced. They know how to get you the best result possible. One of those organizations, for example, would be the National Trial Lawyers Association. As a matter of fact, they have a top 100 list and the top 40 list for every state, so you know that you’re getting quality representation.
It is Imperative to Speak with the Attorney and Get a Feel of Their Experience in the Required Practice Area
Apart from that, you want to speak with the attorney; you want to get a feel for what their experience is like. You want to know that they actually know how to handle the case, rather than just know how to speak about it, know how to talk about building a defense. You want to try and look at reviews from past clients, maybe some peer reviews from other attorneys. If you look at reviews from other attorneys and clients that are constantly positive, you can rest assured that the attorney will treat you the same. Those things don’t just happen by accident. You’re getting a good deal and you’re getting what you paid for.
The Red Flags To Consider When Talking To An Attorney For a DUI Defense
Interviewer: What are some of the warning signs that someone should be vary of when it comes to hiring an attorney especially for DUI?
Matthew Murillo: You have to trust your gut. With any criminal matter, and a DUI is a criminal matter, the results can’t be guaranteed. If you’re going to see someone and they say that they guarantee they’re going to get X result, you probably don’t want to hire them because it’s usually going to be a one-time affair. They’re basically willing to tell you anything just to get you through the door. They may be willing to tell you anything to either accept a plea without any real basis for it or go to trial just so they can line their pockets a little bit more.
It is Advisable to Beware of An Attorney That is Willing to Settle a Case Too Soon
The other thing is being a little bit too willing to settle the case too soon. If you have a low BAC case, that is 0.05 or 0.04; California law says that if your BAC is at 0.05 or really anything below 0.05, they presume that you’re not impaired. So, if you go up to somebody and you know your BAC level was 0.05 and they’re saying that they would have no issues getting it down to a reckless, which is a reduced offense from a DUI, and that you should take that plea right away, they may not be the best person to go to because that plea deal should probably be your worst case scenario.
It is Imperative to Stay Away from An Attorney that Quotes an Absurdly Low Fee
You want to try and stay away from the lowball attorney who’s quoting their extremely low fees in comparison to what everybody else is charging, if you have other attorneys that are charging between 1,500 to 2,500 and you get one who’s charging 600, there may be a reason for that. Generally, attorneys will charge based on the experience that they have and how many cases they have at any one time. You don’t necessarily want to go with someone basically on finances and I’ll give you an example. In my office, we treat every case differently. Some methods overlap, but building a defense is specific to each and every case. For this reason, we don’t necessarily have our fees posted anywhere just hanging around because it all depends on the case, we consider a variety of factors in determine a reasonable fee for each case.
It is Important that the Defense Attorney Proves That They are Worth Their Fee by Making their Best Efforts for the Client
Some of the factors many attorneys take into consideration when quoting fees are: (1) Where the case is going to be heard, (2) whether we think that there’s going to be a motion that’s going to be necessary for it (i.e., motion to suppress evidence), and (3) whether it’s a blood or a breath test that’s involved because some of those things do make a difference. Sometimes who the officer is will make a difference. A lot of things go into it and that’s what the person should be looking at, what kind of value they are getting for the cost that they’re going to pay. If it’s too low, then you might be getting an attorney who really doesn’t know much about DUIs. Of course, this is not true for everyone. So its important to use your intuition. But generally speaking, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.