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Have you been served with a target letter by a federal prosecutor? Has your company received a grand jury subpoena for books and records? Did federal agents raid a subsidiary’s office and seize business records and the company’s computers? Did you, or someone you work with, do something you knew to be wrong? Are you afraid of going to prison and need to speak with a lawyer right away?

Don’t just rely on suggestions from your general counsel or your outside counsel or pick names of lawyers out of books like Best Lawyers or Chambers. Not every lawyer or law firm is suited for every case. In a criminal prosecution you want lawyers who have actually won cases as defense counsel, lawyers who spend their days in court, not in an office writing memos; lawyers who don’t just have great government or Ivy League credentials, but have heard the words “not guilty” or “case dismissed.”

If you are under investigation by the federal government or have been charged with a federal offense, and you are interviewing counsel, there are seven fundamental questions you must ask each lawyer. And you shouldn’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask.

  1. How many times have you convinced a prosecutor not to charge your client?

  2. Have you ever convinced a prosecutor to drop charges against your client because you proved your client was innocent?

  3. How many times have you tried a case as a defense attorney?

  4. How many times have you had the judge dismiss charges against your client?

  5. How many times have you heard the words “Not Guilty” said in a case you tried?

  6. How many times have you had a judge vary downward from the sentencing guidelines?

  7. How many times have you had a client convicted of a felony receive probation or house arrest?

The best lawyers won’t try to evade the answers to these questions. The best lawyers won’t hesitate to answer these questions because they have actually won cases.

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