Why You Hire a Lawyer
If you have been charged with a crime, you want to retain a lawyer immediately. And not just any old lawyer, or a family lawyer – you need someone who has expertise in criminal defense because it is a highly specialized area of the law.
If you can’t afford to hire a lawyer in your criminal defense matter, a lawyer known as a “public defender” will be appointed for you. However, if you are looking to hire a criminal defense lawyer in private practice, one of the best places to start in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Larimer or Weld is with Sarah Schielke. This is because, unless there are special circumstances, you will want to hire a lawyer with a local office and with local experience. Criminal matters often arise in a jurisdiction where you don’t actually live, and your best bet is always to go with an attorney local to the criminal prosecution, rather than local to your home.
Another reason to acquire criminal defense that is local to the prosecution is because of the fact that criminal cases are often resolved by plea agreements with the district attorney’s office (Larimer, Weld, Jefferson, Adams, etc.). This means that you will want a lawyer that either has a good working relationship with the prosecuting Larimer or Weld district attorney, or that at least has a reputation that commands respect. Sarah Schielke has both, in Fort Collins and in Greeley. You will also want a lawyer who regularly appears in the jurisdiction your case is in, first looking to whether your case is federal or state, and then, if state, in the particular county where you are charged. Sarah Schielke practices regularly in the following jurisdictions: Larimer, Weld, Jefferson and Adams.
You should also check to see if the defense attorney you are considering is affiliated with associations that cater to your needs, like the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers . Most states have state organizations that are similar, as do many large cities. In Colorado, that organization is the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar (CCDB); and in Larimer County, that is the Larimer County Criminal Defense Bar (LCCDB). Sarah Schielke is a member of all of these organizations and an active one at that. A little known fact most people don’t know is how important active participation in one’s CCDB membership is in the state of Colorado. Active CCDB members collaborate, brainstorm and ask questions about their cases online every day (removing all identifying or confidential client information first, of course). This means that when you have a novel or tricky question of law or fact, or want to know about additional possibilities in your case, you have the benefit of literally thousands of years of experience from defense attorneys throughout Colorado. Every difficult decision or tricky obstacle in your case has happened before, and with CCDB membership, your defense counsel will be able to get the facts, experience and advice you need from another attorney who has been there. There’s no reinventing the wheel. This is great for you, in a number of respects. It will save you money (no hours spent – or billed – researching a question another defender has already researched) and often, it can save your case! So no matter who you hire for your criminal defense, make sure to ask them if they are a member of the CCDB and whether or not they participate in the listserv. It may end up being the most important question you ask!
Criminal defense lawyers will almost always charge by the hour, or by a flat fee that is payable up front. Rules of professional conduct in Colorado prohibit a lawyer from entering into a contingent fee agreement for a criminal action. Rates can be competitive so it will be to your benefit to shop around. Generally, however, lawyers with a good reputation in Northern Colorado tend to charge more. Be careful, though. Poor criminal defense attorneys rely on the accused person’s impulse to associate higher hourly rates with a better quality of representation, and will take all your money before you realize that they’ve been doing mediocre work. With your freedom possibly on the line, your decision shouldn’t be made based on cost if it doesn’t have to be. You need to meet each potential defender and get a feel for what they’re all about and whether an attorney-client relationship with them would be a good fit. That means, in the end, it really comes down to following your gut. And if your gut is unsure, then you can always feel free to ask Sarah Schielke what you should do. Sarah’s primary commitment is to justice, not profiting from it. She is down-to-earth and will always give you an honest answer about what you need and where in the Fort Collins, Loveland or Greeley area you can find it. Whether or not you hire her, if there is justice to be had, she wants to help you find it! And with your life, liberty, or both on the line, you should never be afraid to ask your defense attorney any question.