I Need A Lawyer: Questions To Ask A Lawyer Before Hiring Them

When your freedom is at stake, there are certain questions you should ask before you decide which lawyer you want to trust with your freedom:

How much experience do you have in criminal law?

Attorney Jeff Gedbaw has served as lead counsel in well over 5,000 cases throughout his career. He has handled criminal cases in both Missouri and Kansas state courts, as well as in federal court. He has handled numerous homicides, sex offenses, robberies, serious assaults, drug charges, and all lesser charges. It doesn’t matter whether you are accused of something as serious as murder or something as simple as DWI; he has handled that type of case many times. He knows what steps need to be taken from the beginning of the case so that you can get the best outcome.

Are you willing to take my case to trial?

This is probably the most important question you should ask any criminal defense lawyer before you hire them for your case. The vast majority of cases do not go all the way to a jury trial. Most cases are settled through either a plea bargain or some other disposition such as a diversion agreement. However, even if you do not want a jury trial and you want to resolve your case through a plea bargain, you still need an attorney who has a reputation as someone who is not afraid to go to trial. The reason for this is simple. Prosecutors know which attorneys are actually willing to take cases to trial and which attorneys are scared to do so. When a prosecutor knows that your attorney is willing to fight your case all the way, including up to a jury trial if necessary, they often give better plea offers. It’s not at all uncommon for prosecutors to make a lousy plea offer early in the process but then make significantly better offers right before the trial, or in some cases, even the morning that trial is set to begin.

Attorney Jeff Gedbaw has served as lead counsel on more than 50 criminal jury trials in his career, including multiple homicides, sex offenses, robberies, and other very serious cases. Because of his willingness to push a case towards trial if the prosecutor is not willing to make an acceptable offer to his clients, he can put immense pressure on the prosecution to give a more lenient offer than they might give to an attorney who they know won’t actually take a case to trial. The mere threat of a jury trial leads to better plea offers. Make sure that any attorney you hire has the reputation, skill, and willingness to put this pressure on the prosecution so that you can get the best result possible. I need a lawyer willing to go to trial if needed.

If I do take my case to trial, have you obtained favorable results in front of a jury in the past?

Each case is different and the evidence in all cases is different. Attorney Jeff Gedbaw has conducted jury trials where he has obtained outright “not guilty” verdicts on murder cases, sex offenses, robbery, serious assault, as well as many other types of criminal cases. Additionally, he has conducted many trials where his clients were only found guilty of significantly lesser charges than what the prosecutor had alleged. He has also conducted many trials where, even after a trial, his clients still received a sentence that was less than any plea offer that the prosecutor had ever made on the case. When your freedom is at stake, you want a trial attorney who has a proven track record of favorable jury verdicts for his clients.

What if I don’t want a trial and I just want to work out the best deal I can get?

Most criminal cases result in some sort of resolution without a trial. This is where an experienced, effective litigator can work out the best deal for you. An experienced attorney knows what is a “good offer” versus what is an unreasonable offer from the prosecutor. As your attorney, you need a lawyer who will fight to get you the best deal possible to resolve your case if that is the route you want to take. As stated previously, the best trial attorneys often get the best offers from prosecutors because the trial attorneys can apply maximum pressure on the prosecution to get the deal that is best for their client.

Is there any way to get the charges against me dismissed so I don’t have a criminal record?

Depending on what type of crime you are charged with, what allegedly occurred, and depending on if you have any prior criminal record, it is possible in some cases. Most prosecutor’s offices have either formal diversion programs or informal programs. In a formal diversion program, you will basically sign an agreement saying you will obey all laws and possibly follow other conditions. At the end of the diversion period, the charges against you will be dismissed and the prosecutor will agree that those charges will never be filed again. This allows you to avoid having any criminal record. For the offices that don’t have formal diversion programs, an experienced attorney can present your case and your argument to the prosecutor and try to convince them to create some sort of informal diversion agreement. While this is not possible in all cases, for people who have no prior record and especially young individuals with no prior record, an experienced attorney will explore this option and present the best case possible to the prosecutor to see if your case can be handled outside of the formal criminal justice system. It is important to have an experienced attorney on your side who understands what type of things a prosecutor will consider when deciding if they are willing to offer something like this.

I’m innocent of these charges. Do we have to go all the way to a trial before I can move on with my life?

Any experienced attorney knows that their performance at trial is only as good as the investigation and preparation that they have done prior to the trial. While the prosecutor will let you see their evidence before the trial, their evidence is only part of the picture. There are always two sides to the story, but unfortunately, the police often don’t care about your side of the story. A good attorney will thoroughly investigate your case, review the prosecutor’s evidence, and conduct any additional interviews that the police may not have conducted during their investigation. Depending on the individual case, a good attorney may be able to uncover evidence that proves to the prosecutor that they have charged the wrong person with the crime. As an example, Attorney Jeff Gedbaw once represented a 17-year-old who was charged with killing two people. He was charged with two counts of second-degree murder and, despite his young age, was facing the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison. After extensive investigation by the defense team, it was determined that the defendant had an alibi for the exact time that the homicides occurred. After presenting the evidence to the prosecutor, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office dismissed all charges and the young man was released from jail. Had it not been for the thorough investigation conducted by the defense on this case, this young man could have spent the rest of his life in prison for crimes that he did not commit. While this obviously does not happen in every case, it shows the importance of investigating each case and the investigation that we will conduct on your case if you are represented by our firm. An experienced attorney knows how to investigate a criminal case to place you in the best position to receive a favorable outcome on your case.

The police contacted me for questioning, but they didn’t arrest me. Do I need a lawyer yet?

Absolutely. The earlier that you can get a lawyer on your side, the better. Police will often try to speak with you if you are a suspect in a crime. In some cases, you may not even realize that you are a suspect. You may believe that you are simply a witness to the crime and did nothing wrong. However, you don’t know what information the police are working with when they try to contact you. Even though you consider yourself a witness, they may consider you a suspect. For this reason, it is extremely important that you retain a lawyer to represent you sooner rather than later. An experienced attorney can determine if there is any possibility that you could find yourself as a suspect to a crime that you did not commit, and what steps should be taken. An attorney can also make sure that the police do not question you without the attorney present, or in some cases, will even advise the police that you will not make any statement at all.

Additionally, if it appears that you will eventually be charged with a crime, an attorney can contact the prosecutor on your behalf and sometimes work out agreements. For low-level crimes, the attorney may be able to work out a diversion agreement with the prosecutor before the case is even filed. While this is not possible in all cases, it is possible if the attorney knows what they are doing. Additionally, by your attorney contacting the prosecutor before formal charges are filed, the attorney may be able to work out an agreement where you can simply turn yourself in and be released without the need to post a bond. Nobody wants the police to come to their home or workplace and arrest them in front of their family or co-workers. An experienced attorney knows the steps that can be taken to prevent this from happening in most cases.

When your freedom, job, family, and future are at stake, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to navigate the system. With our firm by your side every step of the way, you can have confidence in knowing that we will do everything in our power to minimize any disruption to your life, and allow you to move forward. We will investigate your case completely, identify any defenses that are available, and consult with you regarding the best course of action. Our results speak for themselves. 

The Gedbaw Law Firm represents clients and accepts all state and federal cases throughout the entire Kansas City metro, including but not limited to Lee's Summit, Greenwood, Lake Winnebago, Lake Latawana, Lone Jack, Pleasant Hill, Grandview, Belton, Raymore, Blue Springs, Loch Lloyd, Overland Park, Leawood, Praire Village, Lenexa as well as cases outside the metro area. States of Practice include Missouri and Kansas.

Contact Gedbaw Law Firm Attorney Jeff Gedbaw for a free consultation.