Not all that long ago, an arrest – or even a conviction – for driving under the influence was really not that big of a deal in the United States. Most people received nothing more than the proverbial “slap on the wrist” for a first time DUI. Today, however, an arrest for DUI is taken seriously as a result of a concerted effort by advocacy groups and government agencies to bring awareness to the public regarding the dangers of drinking and driving. If you were recently arrested in Omaha, Nebraska for DUI, the most important thing you can do at this point is to retain the services of an experienced Nebraska DUI attorney. If you have never had the need to hire a criminal defense attorney before, the following tips may help you choose the right DUI lawyer for you and your case.
- Consider your situation. Before you start looking for an attorney, make sure you understand the charges against you, consider your game plan, and set a budget. Each of these will be important when choosing an attorney. Choosing an attorney whose practice is devoted entirely, or at least primarily, to criminal defense is essential because you don’t want an attorney who spends the majority of his/her time reviewing contracts to represent you in a criminal prosecution. Even better, look for an attorney who has a practice that is focused even more narrowly on DUI cases. Also, consider how you wish to resolve your case – plea agreement or trial because some defense attorneys have a reputation for negotiating great plea agreements while others almost always go to trial so it is important to consider which direction you are inclined to go with your case. Finally, there can be a fairly wide range of fees charged by attorneys. Usually, although not always, the disparity in fees reflects the disparity in experience. While this is not the time to shop for bargains, you do need to know how much you can afford to pay an attorney before you set out to hire one.
- Ask friends, family members, and co-workers for a referral. Understandably, you may be reluctant to discuss your situation with people you know. Being arrested and charged with a crime is usually not something people are excited about sharing with others. You might be surprised, however, at how many people you know have either been arrested for driving under the influence themselves or had a close loved one who was. The reality is that being arrested for a DUI is just not that shocking, or uncommon, in the United States. A referral offers you first-hand information about an attorney. It isn’t just the positive feedback that can be helpful either. Sometimes, the negative experiences people you know had with the attorney can be just as helpful as the positive feedback.
- Contact local and state Bar associations. Bar associations frequently offer lawyer referral services that can be searched using a variety of helpful criteria such as the lawyer’s practice areas, geographic location, even languages spoken. For residents of Omaha or he surrounding area, the Omaha Bar Association is a good place to start. The Nebraska Bar Association’s “Find a Lawyer” program is another good resource.
- Search the internet. Choosing an attorney based solely on the attorney’s website is never a good idea; however, you can obtain a wealth of information by searching the internet for a Nebraska criminal defense attorney. You will likely find an attorney’s biography, the areas of the law the attorney practices, and how long the lawyer has been in practice, among other helpful information. Sometimes an attorney’s bio instantly resonates with a client, ultimately resulting in a successful attorney-client relationship.
- Schedule consultations. Most Nebraska criminal defense attorneys will offer a free, or low cost, initial consultation. Once you have a short list of potential attorneys, schedule initial consultations with them to discuss your case. Be sure to prepare for the meetings by gathering documents and making copies for the attorney, preparing questions you have for the attorneys, and preparing yourself to answer some tough questions the attorney may have for you. By the time you are done with your consultations you should be ready to choose an attorney for your case.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence, or DUI, in Nebraska contact the Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced Omaha DUI attorney.