Here are Attorney DeSantis’ answers to the six questions you should ask a criminal defense lawyer prior to entrusting them with your future.
1. What percentage of his practice involves criminal defense and how long has he or she practiced criminal defense? Of course the longer the time, the more training and experience they will have. Fifteen years or more gives you a good probability that they will have expert knowledge to use in getting you the best outcome for your case. This expert knowledge not only relates to knowing the laws, but also a working knowledge of the criminal process, how best to negotiate or deal with the government and Judges.
Attorney DeSantis has practiced law for over 15 years, with a primary focus on criminal defense. Prior to passing the bar Attorney DeSantis interned for prosecutor’s offices in Connecticut and Massachusetts. This allowed Attorney DeSantis to gain insight into how cases are prosecuted and to structure a defense accordingly. Attorney DeSantis has handled literally thousands of criminal cases over the years. This ranges from major felonies, federal, misdemeanors and appeals. This includes people accused of crimes and working with the police, prosecutors or other agencies to attempt to prevent an arrest. Or if one is arrested making every attempt to get the charges dismissed. If that is not an option to attempt to negotiate the best deal possible, with the goal of obtaining no jail time. If that is unsuccessful then working out the best sentence possible, or going to trial.
2. How many trials have he or she handled? Obviously you want someone who has tried a lot of cases, ideally 100 or more. An attorney with that level of experience is prepared for such factors as: trial preparation, investigation, motion practice, jury selection, cross-examination, closing arguments, appellate rights preservation, negotiating reduced sentences and any number of critical elements in a criminal case. Most importantly you want a lawyer with experience to handle for what surprises that invariably occur at trial. A good trial attorney is always prepared, which also means being prepared for the unexpected and the ability to handle the unexpected. You want someone with experience.
Attorney DeSantis has taken over 100 cases to trial. This includes at least 20 jury trials involving major felonies such as murder, sexual assault, Federal wiretap, conspiracy to sell kilo quantities of cocaine, arson, gun sales, and more. Attorney DeSantis has taken numerous minor cases/misdemeanors to trial as well. Attorney DeSantis has tried nearly a 100 habeas corpus cases, a type of appeal involving a bench trial (Judge Trial). Attorney DeSantis is an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers. This allows Attorney DeSantis to stay current with developments in the law as well as the trends in the practice of criminal defense. Attorney DeSantis has participated in hundreds of hours of continuing legal education throughout the country and stays current by continuing to participate in continuing legal education.
Attorney DeSantis accepts Court appointed cases on the State and Federal level and has done so for years. Attorney DeSantis has been a member of the CJA panel for years by which he receives appointment to major Federal cases which involve serious and complicated crimes. Attorney DeSantis has attended numerous seminars presented by the Federal Courts focusing on recent and important developments in criminal defense throughout the country.
Attorney DeSantis has an extensive network of investigators and experts that he has worked with over the years. Whatever the situation Attorney DeSantis has access to seasoned investigators who are reliable and resourceful. Attorney DeSantis has worked with various experts in the past who are reliable and knowledgeable in their respective fields.
3. Is he or she a Certified Criminal Attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocacy? Has he or she been recognized by his or her peers as committing themselves to excellence in representing their clients? This is a designation few attorneys have. It means the attorney has a minimum 45 days of jury trials along with many other rigorous requirements including extensive continuing legal education in the criminal defense area of practice.
Attorney DeSantis was certified as a Criminal Trial Advocate in 2006 and re-certified in 2011. The standards are set forth at the end of this page or see http://www.nblsc.us/certification_standards_criminal/. The certification process involves a thorough screening of credentials, including: documentation of their experience and continuing legal education, judicial and peer references, an exam, and reporting any potential disciplinary matters. The National Board of Legal Specialty Certification committee then reviews each application to determine if an attorney meets the requirement. The same holds true for re-certification which must be done every five years.
Attorney DeSantis was named by the National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers for the year 2013. This is a premier group of attorneys who practice criminal defense from the State of Connecticut. The National Trial Lawyers is a professional organization of America’s top trial lawyers. Membership into the organization is by invitation only and is extended to those individuals who exemplify superior qualifications, trial results, and leadership in their respective state.
4. Will he or she explain to you what is occurring on your case on a regular basis and return your phone calls?
Attorney DeSantis will stay in constant communication with you regarding the status of your case and address any questions or concerns that you have during the process. Attorney DeSantis believes in client orientated representation. Attorney DeSantis believes that the client should be involved with the decisions that are made and be fully aware of all the options at each stage of the process. This includes going to visit clients incarcerated as much as is necessary and meeting with family members.
5. Will he or she give you a flat fee price, or charge an hourly rate which can go on forever?
Generally Attorney DeSantis charges a flat fee. This allows Attorney DeSantis to focus solely on representation. This means that a client doesn’t have to worry about having to pay extra for meeting with their lawyer or talking on the phone with their lawyer. You know what you are paying for upfront.
6. How did you find this lawyer? Was he or she just referred to you by a bondsmen or a friend, which may not understand what you need in your situation. Was the referral made because someone has relationship with that attorney as opposed to being based on the attorney’s skill and experience in the area of criminal defense? Just because the person who referred you to a lawyer likes that lawyer is not enough of a reason to trust that lawyer with your, or a loved one’s, freedom.
When someone is arrested often times the first person they meet outside of the police is the bondsman. Do they immediately refer you, or a loved one, to an attorney? Is this really how you want to base one of the most important decisions in your life? It can certainly be a factor but with something as important as your freedom, or conviction that will remain with you for the rest of your life, one should take a careful approach to who they hire. It should be who is best for you, not who somebody thinks is best for you.