As soon as a parent hears that their college student child has been arrested one of their first thoughts is about hiring an attorney. Many questions will surround this decision. Do I even need to hire an attorney for my child? How much will an attorney costs? How do I find an attorney for my college student?
First, I always recommend that any college student who is arrested have his or her own attorney – no matter how minor the charge. The reason for this is two-fold. A college student is simply not sophisticated or familiar enough with court proceedings to understand what is going on in a fast paced courtroom by himself. Having your own attorney will allow the family to have everything explained before and during court so there is no issue, problem or surprise with the case or the outcome. The second reason is that any criminal charge can have serious implications on a college student’s future career. I explain all the possible implication of a criminal record here. The cost of an attorney to properly handle a college student’s criminal charge is simply a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of a 4 year college education – and could have more of an impact on the student’s future and career!
Once you have decided to hire an attorney for your college student, how do you go about finding the right one? Most times the parents are many miles or states away from where their child was arrested. In age of the Internet I hear parents use the Internet to locate an attorney. This is similar to using the Yellow Pages a few decades ago. It is possible to find a good, competent attorney using the Internet. However, I have a few other suggestions that I find will bring you to a more appropriate attorney specifically for your child and your needs.
First, if you have a friend or family member near the college I would ask them for a recommendation for a criminal attorney for whatever type of charge is involved. Many times a parent will be too embarrassed to tell friends or family about a child’s arrest. You can simply say a friend of your child was arrested, etc. A trusted person in the area will be more likely to have contacts with attorneys in the area who handle this type of case.
Second, I recommend that you contact your personal or family attorney that you know and have used in the past. Ask them for a recommendation for a criminal attorney for your child at the college location. Attorneys know attorneys and sometimes have contacts throughout the country. If they don’t specifically know an attorney in the area they can locate the appropriate one for you. An attorney you know and have used in the past will be happy to make a recommendation. I would even ask that this attorney place the initial phone call to the criminal attorney first and make an introduction. This will get the criminal attorney’s attention and he will know that you are a serious client looking to hire an attorney.
No matter how you go about locating an attorney for your college student, be sure that you feel comfortable with the attorney and that you have direct contact with the attorney himself – not just the staff. Attorneys do use secretaries and staff members to communicate with clients and there is nothing wrong with that. However, before you hire any attorney you should speak to or meet personally if possible with the actual attorney who is going to be handling the case. If you don’t see or speak to the attorney before you pay them it is unlikely that when you have a question that you will get them on the phone.