Choosing Your Lawyer Over the Internet

August 29, 2013

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

It’s hard to tell us apart on the web!

I was recently asked by a long-time friend on the other side of the country to evaluate a lawyer who had been referred to them.  I surprisingly found it to be a somewhat frustrating exercise though I would think I know what I’m looking for.

Like finding the right detergent, trying to pick through the web to figure out who you want to visit with to handle a criminal case is tricky.  Here’s my modest attempt at helping you weigh certain information, claims, and anything else you may come across online in choosing a criminal attorney.

Checking the Lawyer’s Standing with the State Bar

You can log on to the State Bar of Texas web page to search and check the licensing and disciplinary history of every lawyer.  Every state has a similar web page run by their licensing entity as far as I’m aware.

Lawyer Web Pages

Some lawyers are better at having an online presence than others.  A sharp web page can mean a lawyer really has their act together and you might be able to extrapolate that into them being detail oriented with your case.  On the other hand I know many outstanding lawyers whose web pages look terrible because they simply don’t spend time on them or they might not be too internet savvy.  I personally tend to shy away from lawyers whose web page looks like a phone-book ad or who claim to practice effectively in areas ranging from dog-bites to deeds to DWI.  A practitioner of many trades tends to be a master of none.

Former Prosecutors

There are lots of us running around!  I enjoyed my time as an assistant district attorney and I feel as though it gives me a bit of an insight as to how my now-opponents think.  The experience certainly allowed me to learn many hard lessons in the courtroom which certainly make me a better lawyer today.  In many ways moving from being a prosecutor to a defense lawyer is a natural and common career progression in criminal law.  I should also say I know many, many terrific criminal defense lawyers who never spent a day at the DA’s office.  Their learning curve was much harder so my hat is certainly off to them.

There are a few negatives to being a former prosecutor.  First is some have a difficult time making the transition to being a criminal defense lawyer.  They may still harbor judgment towards people accused of a crime — an unacceptable trait for a defense lawyer.  They also may not be able to spot issues or “think” like a criminal defense lawyer for some time either.

Tough Talk

Tough talk can only be backed up effectively with objective results.  I don’t fault lawyers for talking about “how many pushups they can do” because I recognize some honestly feel this way and they are also trying to distinguish themselves from their competition online.  Your lawyer should never be afraid of upsetting opponents or witnesses in trial.

There are two problems with tough-talk from a lawyer on the internet.  First is that anyone can say it; and second is sheer aggressiveness in the courtroom isn’t always the right approach in a given case.

I try less to generalize about how “tough” or “relentless” I am and try to focus more on my results.  Nothing succeeds like success.  Besides, I’m sure I’ve gotten just as many Not Guilty verdicts being nice to everyone in the courtroom as when I’ve been a tough-guy burrowing under everyone’s skin.

Lawyer Ratings

Some web pages try to give you a score for particular lawyers.  As long as the score is derived objectively from sources such as peer review within the legal community and the lawyer’s disciplinary history then it may be a good indicator of how well respected the lawyer is.  Some pages, though, require the lawyer to participate or patronize the service in order to be ranked — so a bad score (or not showing up in the ranking at all) isn’t necessarily because the lawyer is bad.

Online Reviews

Give more weights to positive reviews than negative ones.  A positive review is indicative both a good result and a client who is so pleased with the services they feel strongly enough to take the extra time to comment.  While three or four negative reviews scattered online may certainly be indicative of a problem — an isolated bad review may be for many reasons despite a good result in a case.  No lawyer can please every client every time.

Promises or Guarantees

No lawyer should ever guarantee you a result online under any circumstance.  As an attorney, we deal with difficult variables in every case which we simply cannot control.  In Texas, it is not ethical to guarantee results.  I can’t imagine other state’s allow it either.

These are just a few pointers in your search.  I hope it helps!

*Jeremy Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas.  Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice about any situation you should speak directly to a licensed attorney in your state.

Passing The Breath Test Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Get Charged with DWI

August 29, 2013

Criminal Defense Lawyer | DWI, Drug, Theft & Assault Charges

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

Texas Penal Code Section 49.01(2) defines intoxication as

“(A) not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or

(B)  having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.”

As you can see the legislature used the word “or” between subsection (A) and (B).  This means that you can be charged with DWI where the officer believes you “do not have the normal use…” regardless of whether a breath test was taken — and regardless of whether a breath test result was below 0.08.

Technical Supervisors, who are the state’s “breath test experts” at trial have training on alcohol, it’s effects on the body, and it’s effects on driving.  They…

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You Don’t Have to Prove You Are Innocent — It’s Probably Impossible Anyway!

August 28, 2013

Criminal Defense Lawyer | DWI, Drug, Theft & Assault Charges

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

One of the most common misconceptions in criminal law is people’s confusion about the difference between proving innocence and casting doubt.  It’s an understandable mistake because after all — we’re all programmed since birth to hear ‘both sides of the story.’

In our system of justice — you are under absolutely no burden whatsoever to prove you are innocent.  The prosecution must prove you’re guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.  If they can’t, then you’re entitled to acquittal.

This is because another way of saying a person has a reasonable doubt is there is a reasonable chance the person is innocent too.  So you can see the huge difference in demonstrating how innocence is a reasonable possibility and actually convincing jurors a person is innocent.

When I had jury duty in Collin County they even showed us a video where…

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Plano Writ Bonds

August 21, 2013

Criminal Defense Lawyer | DWI, Drug, Theft & Assault Charges

By Collin County Criminal Defense attorney Jeremy Rosenthal

(214) 724-7065  24-hour line

Often someone arrested in Collin County is told by the police or a jailer that they need a lawyer to file a “writ bond” to get a friend or loved one out of jail for a DWI arrest, theft arrest, or marijuana arrest.

In non-legalese, this means it is possible to get a loved one out of jail quickly before they are taken to a magistrate to set bond.  A magistrate process by law may take up to 24 hours from the time of arrest on a misdemeanor.

A “writ bond” is a loose term but it actually means a “writ of habeas corpus” filed with the County by a lawyer for their client (the person arrested) that will trigger a cash bond.  Once the bond is set, it can be paid — and the person arrested…

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If I Am Guilty, Then I Have to Plead Guilty, Right?

August 20, 2013

Criminal Defense Lawyer | DWI, Drug, Theft & Assault Charges

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

People say this to me all the time.  I honestly admire them when they do.  But here’s the thing — you have a right straight from our Constitution to plead not guilty and force the state to prove your guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.  If they can’t you are entitled to acquittal regardless of what you did or didn’t do.  People who have a problem with that also have a problem with Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and our other founding fathers.

Here is the flaw in the “I have to plead guilty” attitude:  Just because you’re being remorseful doesn’t mean the law and the prosecutor will be fair.  The State of Texas doesn’t have a phone line to the almighty so they can together decide what is and is not justice (regardless of the attitude of…

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Am I Guilty Just Because I was There?

August 19, 2013

Criminal Defense Lawyer | DWI, Drug, Theft & Assault Charges

By Collin County Criminal Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

In Texas, mere presence at a crime scene alone is insufficient to sustain a conviction.  The difference between just being at a crime scene and doing something which can be considered aiding or abetting is paper thin, however.  And if you’re complicit in an offense — you can be held equally responsible.

Texas has what is called the law of parties in criminal cases.  It is governed by Section 7.02 of the Texas Penal Code.

Tex.Pen.C. 7.02(2) says that if a person, “solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the other person to commit the offense…” then they are criminally liable as well.  I’ve italicized the words above to show just how liberal the application of that law can be.

Let me give you a hypothetical of how this rule applies.  Take two 18-year old boys at…

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What is the Difference Between Pleading Guilty and No Contest in Texas?

August 15, 2013

Criminal Defense Lawyer | DWI, Drug, Theft & Assault Charges

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

Under Texas law — pleading “no contest” (or sometimes called “nolo contendere”) feels better than pleading guilty and that is about it.

Many people think that if they plead “no contest” that they’re not being convicted or being placed on deferred and that nothing will go on their criminal record.  This is not true and the wording of the plea is nothing more than a legal mechanism which alleviates the state from their burden of proof beyond all reasonable doubt.  If the judge accepts a plea of guilty, or no contest — they are legally empowered to find you guilty (or place you on deferred) with no additional evidence.

The lone narrow difference is that if you plead “no contest” to an offense in Texas, and if there is a civil case where the criminal case is of significance…

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