If you've made it to this website, chances are you're in some sort of legal trouble in Colorado Springs. Or maybe you're just looking for a good criminal defense attorney in Colorado Springs so that you'll be prepared if those hard times ever come.
The system, the process, the police and the courts ... maybe you're confused about what to do. Overwhelmed, even. Perhaps the charges against you, and how the prosecution is going about it, doesn't exactly stack up to the way you thought the law worked--definitely not what you expected.
So what to do?
Sure, there are lots of attorneys in Colorado Springs. But how do you find a lawyer best suited for your needs? What things should you consider when trying to choose one attorney over another? I'll let you in on a little secret: while we lawyers do have an advanced degree, and have demonstrated enough intelligence to pass the Colorado Attorney Bar Exam ... being "rocket scientist" smart is NOT a prerequisite for the job. Our technical knowledge of the law might be more than non-lawyers, but it takes a lot more than books on Colorado Statutes to make a good attorney. And some lawyers are better for some purposes than others.
When you're looking to hire a Colorado Springs Criminal Defense attorney, here are five things that can make or break your case:
1. Comfortable Communication
You've got to feel comfortable talking to your lawyer. If your attorney isn't approachable, how are you going to communicate about all of the details of your situation, how you feel, possible strategies and ideas, if you're intimidated by merely talking about it? Your lawyer is supposed to be your guiding light through one of the hardest and most stressful times in your life. A legal counselor. Whenever I meet a potential new client, I'll take at least an hour (usually more for DUI), just to chat with the client about 'where' they are: family life, sources of stress, their job, financial status, physical and emotional well-being, and, of course, the facts that led this client my way in the first place. All things to bolster communication and to best understand the client. I'd like you to leave my office feeling informed about what to do.
I've always made a policy of total accessibility. Transparency. As a client, when you call me, you'll get to talk with me (unlike many attorneys). Send me an email, and you'll get a quick response.
2. Client Education
Often when a new client comes to me, they come in loaded with uncertainty. At rock-bottom. Real life isn't like court on TV and the movies, and when you're suddenly thrust into the criminal legal system, to say it can be confusing and 'not what you expected' ... is an understatement to say the least. One of my goals as an attorney includes educating my clients about what they're facing, possible outcomes, strategy, and whatever else they need to be informed enough to make tough decisions and know what to expect. Together, we'll pull you out of the hole of the unknown and get you standing on a level playing field. When you understand the process and the stages of criminal charges, it becomes easier to craft a strong defense ... and to sleep at night.
This goes without saying, of course, but once when I was working for the DA's office, I watched an attorney I was supervising try his first serious felony case against a Criminal Defense Attorney who was also so green that she honestly did not know that her client, if convicted, was looking at a mandatory minimum of five years in prison! Everyone has to be green at some point, and start somewhere, but with your liberty and livelihood on the line, make sure that the Colorado Springs Criminal Defense Attorney you've chosen to represent you has handled cases like yours before.
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for--up to a point. From the very beginning, I'll be honest that I'm not the cheapest lawyer in town ... but I'm definitely not the most expensive, either. I'm here to provide quality representation and legal counseling, and the actual expense of that will be crystal clear. Many defense attorneys try to shroud what they're doing with an air of mystique, or play to your fears about the charges and the legal process--all tactics designed to bump up their fees. And the cheapest lawyers? Well, they won't give you enough time (meeting with you OR working behind the scenes) to mount an effective defense, because they're too busy taking every client that comes in the door to make ends meet. Like anyone running a business, I try to keep my overhead low enough to make my fees competitive, by hourly rate or flat rate.
When you're talking to attorneys about their rates, if their fee seems too low to be true, or feels really high, make sure to ask the attorney WHY they're quoting that amount. The answer should match up with the number of hours that lawyer is anticipating spending your case based on their hourly rate.
5. Professional Relationships with 'the Other Side'
All the money in the world, legal know-how, and experience an attorney has won't make much difference if the attorney isn't familiar with the folks on the other side of the table (or the bench) in your case, the right time to speak with them, and the most tactful way to approach those individuals. After you've been working in El Paso County for a while, you start getting to know the "players": District Attorneys, the judges, police officers, and court clerks--their pet peeves, what makes them tick, and their quirks. For instance, one Deputy District Attorney may really hate 'dangerous dog' cases. Or one particular judge may sentence people that were driving 20 mph over the speed limit much more harshly than other judges. Your attorney needs to know the different personalities in "the system", and for that, they need to have been working in the El Paso County and Colorado Springs. In fact, it's not just a bonus when they've worked for the prosecution for many years before going into criminal defense--it's the best preparation an attorney can have. (Read about my experience as a Deputy District Attorney HERE! [link]) The old axiom of "it's not what you know--it's WHO you know" truly applies in this profession than any other.
It all boils down to this:
When you hire an attorney, you're essentially 'buying' access to that lawyer, their reputation, experience, and, most importantly, that lawyer's ability to guide you through the system), while making you as comfortable with the process as possible. Finding yourself a good lawyer isn't like buying a new TV. It isn't like 'comparison shopping' at the appliance store or on Amazon. Focus on finding a good relationship and a good fit, and you won't have 'buyer's regret' in the end.
To learn about Geoff Heim's background, CLICK HERE.
For information about practice specialties and different types of defense cases, CLICK HERE.