Choosing the right attorney to represent you in a serious criminal investigation, arrest or Indictment, is critical to the outcome and potentially the client’s freedom. While many lawyers advertise that they “handle all types of criminal matters,” upon closer examination you may likely find that these firms are generalists that handle motor vehicle tickets, minor drug charges, divorces, personal injury and the like. That may not be the firm that you would entrust your freedom to.
So, what should a prospective client look for? First, does the attorney or firm have the experience and background in the type of crime that you are being investigated for? Many top flight criminal defense lawyers began their careers as prosecutors. The advantage is that as young prosecutors, they had the time and training to learn how investigations begin, how they are put together, where the weaknesses lie and how to try a case. Those same skills are later honed and used to defend the client being charged or investigated. In addition, former prosecutors learn how charging decisions are made and what can be reasonably expected during the various phases of a case.
Second, is the lawyer’s practice devoted to criminal defense? Like anything else in life, there is no substitute for practice and repetition. A lawyer who devotes most or all of his time to criminal defense stays current on the case law, practice, developing trends and the positions taken by most prosecutorial agencies. If an attorney only dabbles in criminal defense, they cannot possibly know the system, prosecutors and judges the way someone who specializes in criminal defense does.
Third, is the lawyer a Certified Criminal Trial Attorney? In the State of New Jersey, an attorney with the requisite skill, experience, background and ethics can become Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.[i] Only 1% of the attorneys in New Jersey are Certified. By hiring a Certified Attorney, a client can be more assured that the lawyer has the trial experience and background to defend them at what is one of the most stressful times of their lives.
Fourth, if the case is federal, does the lawyer have substantial experience in federal criminal cases? The federal system is vastly different than the state system. In federal cases, the client and lawyer are entitled to only limited discovery – the evidence against the client – unless the trial has been scheduled and is weeks away. In the federal system, the lawyer must conduct his own investigation and rely on his ability to persuade the Assistant U.S. Attorney and agents to tell him about the case and the evidence against the client. In contrast, the state system is basically “open book” discovery where post-indictment the client is entitled to just about everything the prosecution has in its file. In addition to the differences in discovery, there are tremendous differences in plea negotiations, motions’ practice and sentencing.
The attorneys at Stahl Criminal Defense Lawyers have extensive experience in serious federal and state criminal cases. The founder of the firm, Robert Stahl, is a Certified Criminal Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court of New Jersey and a former Assistant U.S. Attorney who tried some of the largest fraud and tax cases in the District of New Jersey. He has been defending serious cases in federal and state courts for more than 25 years. Laura Gasiorowski is recognized for her skills at crafting successful federal pre-trial motions, trial and appellate briefs in a host of notable cases. Andrew Olesnycky has been involved in a number of significant federal cases and has been appointed to the federal Criminal Justice Act Panel to represent indigent defendants in federal court.
[i] To become Certified in New Jersey, the lawyer:
- [i] has been a member in good standing of the New Jersey Bar for at least five years;
- has taken a specific number of continuing legal education courses in the three years prior to filing an application;
- demonstrates substantial involvement in preparation of litigated matters;
- demonstrates an unblemished reputation by submitting a list of attorneys and judges who will attest to the applicant’s character and ability; and passes a written examination covering various aspects of practice in the designated specialty.
Stahl Criminal Defense Lawyers aggressively defend individuals charged with complex federal and state crimes. Founder Robert G. Stahl is recognized as one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the NY/NJ area for his skills, knowledge and success. To contact us to discuss your case, call 908.301.9001 for our NJ office and 212.755.3300 for our NYC office, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.