Best Bend Criminal Lawyers
Finding the Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in Bend, Oregon
If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime in Bend, Oregon, having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side can make all the difference. Criminal charges can carry severe penalties like jail time, fines, probation and more, so you’ll want to find the best legal representation possible.
But with so many criminal defense attorneys to choose from in the Bend area, how do you know which ones are truly the best? I’ve researched and compiled this guide to help you understand what to look for when hiring a criminal lawyer in Bend.
The Qualities of a Good Criminal Defense Attorney
When searching for a criminal defense lawyer, there are certain key qualities and credentials to look out for. Here are some of the top things to consider:
- Experience – You’ll want to find an attorney who specializes in criminal defense and has extensive experience representing clients facing charges like yours in Bend. Look for 10+ years of specific criminal law expertise.
- Courtroom Skills – The best criminal lawyers have strong litigation skills and are comfortable arguing cases in court before judges and prosecutors. Make sure they have a proven trial record.
- Knowledge of Local Courts – An understanding of the local court system, judges, prosecutors and processes in Deschutes County can help them navigate your case. Look for longtime Bend-based lawyers.
- Resources – Top attorneys have access to investigative and forensic resources that can strengthen your defense. Firms with teams of legal professionals are a plus.
- Reputation – Check reviews and references to ensure other clients have had good experiences with the lawyer you’re considering. A strong local reputation is key.
- Communication Skills – You want an attorney who is responsive, attentive and explains legal issues in a way you understand. Clear communication is vital.
Top Criminal Defense Firms in Bend
Based on the above criteria, here are some of the top-rated criminal defense firms and attorneys in the Bend area to consider:
Ward Grover LLP
With over 25 years of criminal law experience, Ward Grover LLP has a strong reputation in Bend. Founding attorney Ward Grover has handled hundreds of complex felony cases and is known for his skilled courtroom advocacy. The firm also includes younger partners like attorney Valerie Wright who has experience with DUIs, drug crimes, domestic violence and more.
Donahue Law Firm
Led by attorney Bryan Donahue, the Donahue Law Firm is another excellent option known for personalized service and successful case results. Donahue is a former prosecutor who now puts his insider knowledge to work defending clients against charges like DUI, theft, juvenile crimes and more.
Gilroy Napoli Short Law Group
The Gilroy Napoli Short Law Group brings over 60 years of combined criminal defense experience to clients in Bend. Founding partner John Gilroy has an in-depth knowledge of Oregon criminal statutes and experience representing clients facing serious felonies. Casey Baxter also has a strong background defending DUIs, domestic violence cases, sex crimes and more.
MGM Law Group
Led by Bend attorney Lee Griffith, the MGM Law Group is a full service criminal defense firm representing clients facing charges from traffic violations up to murder. Griffith is a former public defender with over a decade of courtroom experience. His team takes an aggressive approach to defending clients’ rights.
Cascades Law Group
The attorneys at Cascades Law Group provide experienced criminal defense representation in Bend and all Central Oregon counties. Founding attorney Thaddeus Betz handles cases ranging from misdemeanors to serious felonies and will aggressively defend your rights at every stage. The firm has extensive DUI defense experience as well.
Finding the Right Attorney for Your Case
The lawyer that’s best for you will depend on the specifics of your criminal charges, your budget, and factors like your personal style and legal philosophy.
I recommend researching a few top contenders, then scheduling initial consultations to meet with them and ask questions before deciding on who to hire. Many criminal defense lawyers offer free case evaluations, so take advantage of this to make an informed choice.
Here are some important questions to ask during an initial consultation:
- How much experience do you have handling criminal cases similar to mine?
- What will your legal fees be and what billing arrangements do you offer?
- Will you be the attorney actually representing me in court?
- What will your overall approach to my defense look like?
- What are some potential strategies you might use in my case?
- What are the risks and possible penalties I could be facing?
- What are some potential plea bargain options?
- How frequently can I expect updates on my case progress?
Don’t hesitate to ask plenty of questions and assess how comfortable you feel with each lawyer. The rapport you have with your attorney is so important, as you’ll be working closely together.
Understanding the Criminal Justice Process
If you’ve never been involved in the criminal justice system before, it can be confusing to navigate. Here’s a basic overview of what you can expect after criminal charges are filed:
Arrest – If the police have probable cause, they can place you under arrest, at which point you’ll be handcuffed, searched and transported to jail.
Booking & Bail – You’ll have a mugshot and fingerprints taken during booking. Bail may be set, which allows release until trial if it’s paid.
First Court Appearance – Within 48 hours of arrest, you’ll appear before a judge who informs you of the charges against you and your rights. Bail terms may be adjusted.
Preliminary Hearing – For felonies, this hearing determines if there’s enough evidence for the case to go to trial. Your lawyer can argue against probable cause.
Arraignment – At this formal reading of the criminal charges, you’ll enter an initial plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest.
Plea Bargaining – Your lawyer may negotiate with the prosecutor to get charges reduced or dismissed in exchange for a guilty plea.
Trial – If no plea bargain is reached, your case will go to trial where a jury examines evidence and testimony to reach a verdict.
Sentencing – If found guilty, the judge will impose sentencing like fines, probation, restitution and jail time.
Having an experienced criminal defense attorney to guide you through these steps is absolutely vital. The legal advice and advocacy they provide at every stage can greatly impact the outcome of your case.
Common Criminal Charges in Bend
The specific charges you’re facing will determine your defense strategy. Here are some of the most common criminal offenses people face in Bend and across Deschutes County:
- DUI – Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs remains one of the top charges. A first offense DUI is a Class A misdemeanor with penalties up to 1 year in jail.
- Assault – Different levels of assault like 4th, 3rd and 2nd degree carry penalties ranging from fines up to several years in prison.
- Domestic Violence – Abuse against a family or household member leads to charges like harassment, assault and more.
- Drug Crimes – Possession, distribution and trafficking of illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, meth and heroin are common.
- Theft – Charges like shoplifting, burglary, auto theft, identity theft and robbery.
- Sex Crimes – Rape, statutory rape, sexual abuse and assault, prostitution solicitation and more.
- Weapons Offenses – Charges relating to illegal firearm or weapon possession.
- Vandalism/Property Crimes – Destruction of property, vandalism, trespassing, arson and larceny.
- Traffic Violations – Speeding tickets, reckless driving, license suspensions and other infractions.
- Juvenile Offenses – Crimes committed by minors like vandalism, shoplifting, underage drinking and drug use.
Building an Effective Criminal Defense Strategy
A skilled criminal defense lawyer will carefully examine the details of your charges and start developing a defense strategy focused on getting your charges reduced or dismissed.Here are some of the most common and effective defense strategies they may use:
- Invalidating Evidence – Your attorney can argue to suppress questionable or illegally obtained evidence. For example, if the police conducted an illegal search, any evidence found may not be admissible.
- Disputing Accounts – There may be inconsistencies between witness accounts or holes in the prosecutor’s version of events. Your lawyer can highlight these to create reasonable doubt.
- Questioning Credibility – If a key witness against you lacks credibility due to bias, lack of memory or other factors, your attorney can challenge their testimony.
- Self-Defense Claims – In assault cases, self-defense arguments may justify your actions if your safety was at risk.
- Mental Health Defenses – Your lawyer may argue you lacked mental capacity to understand your criminal actions.
- Plea Bargaining – Your attorney can negotiate with the prosecution to get charges dropped or reduced in exchange for a guilty plea.
- Sentencing Mitigation – If found guilty, your lawyer can present mitigating circumstances to the judge arguing for minimized sentencing.
Building a strong defense requires in-depth investigation, legal research and experience. Your Bend criminal attorney will handle these complex legal tasks for you.
Takeaways for Finding the Best Criminal Defense
Facing criminal charges can be an extremely stressful and frightening experience. But having the right legal representation can help ensure your rights are protected and make navigating the legal system much smoother.
Use the guidance above to take your time researching and choosing the ideal criminal defense lawyer for your specific situation in Bend. Schedule consultations with top contenders to get key questions answered.
Look for attorneys with extensive criminal law experience, strong litigation skills, deep knowledge of local courts and stellar client reviews. Understanding the criminal justice process and potential defenses can also help you make the best decision.
The stakes are high, but the right Bend criminal defense lawyer can aggressively defend your rights at every step, giving you the best chance at a positive case outcome. Don’t leave your future to chance – let an experienced local attorney fight for the legal results you deserve.