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Van Wagner & Wood Attorney Chris Van Wagner Attorney Tracey Wood
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Charge: Multiple counts of sexual assault - Jury Trial
Verdict: Not guilty

Charge: Drunk Driving, 3rd offense - Post Conviction
Verdict: Probation, Prison Release

Charge: Murder - Jury trial
Verdict: Not guilty

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When you are facing serious consequences, such as jail, fines, or probation, you can't afford not to have a lawyer with experience, knowledge, and a stellar reputation with the courts, judges, and prosecutors sitting next to you in court.

The first priority for anyone recently released from jail on a cash or signature bond is to prepare for the next court date. Some event occurred that resulted in an arrest. An arrest occurred because evidence existed to substantiate a crime was committed by the person arrested. That evidence will be sitting on the other side of the courtroom in the very near future.

The best way to prepare for your next court date is to immediately contact a very experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible; the sooner you involve your attorney in your case, the better your chances for a successful defense. If you are under investigation, or if you have been arrested but have not been charged yet, you should consult with an attorney right away and ask if it is possible to have the charges dismissed.

With so many lawyers out there, you may be wondering how to choose a criminal defense lawyer for your immediate needs. Perhaps the single most important criteria in choosing the right criminal defense lawyer for you and your situation is trust. Considering that this may be your very first contact with or need for a criminal defense lawyer, how can you possibly know which one to trust?

The following suggestions may be of assistance to you.

Suggested Method For Finding A Good Criminal Defense Lawyer

  1. Conduct an online search for an attorney in the location where you were charged by narrowing the search to the precise criminal charge. Example: sexual assault defense attorney madison wi, drug possession columbus WI
  2. Select the top three or four firms, and review the attorneys' credentials while asking yourself the hard questions: What is his/her background? If you charged with a drug crime, has this attorney practiced in Federal court, or were they a Federal prosecutor? If you are charged with drunk driving, what is his or her background in defending DUI cases? Is DUI a main focus or a gap filler for this firm, or worse yet, are they a drunk driving milling house with a desire to draw in hundreds upon hundreds of OWI cases and plea bargain through the lists? If you are charged with a property crime, how much of this attorney's website is devoted to property crimes such as theft, embezzlement, fraud, or burglary?
  3. Conduct a search on the attorney's name. Does this attorney appear our there on the net with cases that prove his or her claims? You might also try the Wisconsin State Journal website ( and the local TV stations.
  4. Go to the websites of the major and most reputable criminal defense associations and search for the attorney's name. The legal field is a very "telling industry" and those who are regarded very highly are often also members or leaders of the highly regarded associations. For drunk driving, the National College for DUI Defense is certainly the American Bar Association's most regarded association, their website is at For criminal defense in Wisconsin, visit the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Those types of websites do not portray lawyers according to their advertised documentation, rather they provide the facts.
  5. Lastly, call the firm and ask if they provide a free consultation so that you actually speak with the attorney that will represent you.

Important Considerations When Choosing Your Defense Attorney

  1. Publications - If attorneys publish articles, books, or treatises (legal reference guides), they are already subjected to the toughest critics of all (other attorneys) and they are often regarded as experts in that subject matter.
  2. Acquittals - If attorneys win outright acquittals on very serious criminal charges, they prepare well, fight hard, play fair in the court's eyes and win juries over with their arguments. An outright acquittal is a not guilty verdict (the closest response from a court to a statement of innocence).
  3. Leadership - Legal organizations are rather particular about the attorneys they choose to be their leaders. In legal organizations where the leader is voted into office, the members are acknowledging that the officer is highly regarded by the legal community.
  4. Bar referrals - Often times, state bars provide an excellent reference source when a person is looking for an attorney. If the attorney has been disciplined, records of the past action are often available on the bar's website. However, as a referral source, they are limited to providing the name of the next-in-line firm or attorney and usually prohibited from making any recommendation beyond that information.
  5. Criminal Law Commentators & Legal Analysts - Major television networks and local TV and radio stations often invite subject matter experts to comment on various public questions about the law. Attorneys commenting to the nation or state on behalf of a network TV station are regarded as experts in their industry.