Q&A Topic: What Do I Need to Consider When Hiring an Attorney for a Criminal Defense or Personal Injury Case?
Raji S. Zeidan, Esq
1. How does your experience as a Special Prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney work to my advantage?
I was appointed by a Judge to serve as a Special Prosecutor. My experience working as a Special Prosecutor gives me a double-sided perspective: I understand how both sides of our criminal justice system work. My in-depth knowledge of the inner workings of both ends of the legal field enhances my ability to achieve the best possible outcome for my clients.
2. What is your perspective on personal injury cases?
In personal injury cases, I always remember that I am dealing with people, injured people, and I am empathetic to the physical and emotional suffering that a person is going through. After an injury, for instance a car accident case, a person who has been hurt is now dealing with medical bills and insurance companies. I guide my clients through the process so as to make it as easy as possible.
When dealing with insurance companies, I know that their job is to save their company money. However, my job is to get my client the money they deserve and need.
3. What differentiates your law firm from other law firms?
Although I have the ability to practice in many different areas, I focus my practice areas to criminal defense and personal injury. I decided to excel in a limited number of practice areas as opposed to taking a mediocre approach to many different areas of law.
As an attorney, it is important to have a healthy competitive streak: My goal is to always achieve the best possible outcome for my clients and that is all I accept. I do not view my clients as file numbers or an income source. People come to me with a problem—either they are facing criminal charges or have been injured due to another party’s negligence—and when they retain my services, I work diligently to give them the best result for their case.
Since I am a solo practitioner, I am able to give clients personal attention. In larger law firms, clients typically feel as though their case is shuffled around through associate attorneys and paralegals. This is not how I run my practice.
I understand how frightened people facing criminal charges may be. They are in a tough situation and their freedom, reputation and future could be on the line. I do not take a cookie cutter approach to clients and their cases. Each person and case is different and deserves to have time and effort spent reviewing, analyzing and working on their case.
Typically, clients meet with me in person to describe the details of what happened to them. When I am working on a case, I understand that I am dealing with a person and the outcome of their case will have a great impact on their life. I do not take short cuts or look for easy ways to finish things. My clients and I share the same goal of doing what’s right, and what’s needed, to get the best result.
Once I accept your case, you can be assured we’re on the same team and we have the same goal. I tell all my clients the same thing: Though I don’t know what the results of your case will be, I WILL get you the best results because that’s the only thing I will settle for. Period.
4. What do I need to do to ensure the best outcome for my case?
The most important thing is to be honest with me. It is not a good idea to leave out details, because they can surface later and cause problems for the case. Following my instructions is also important. If I ask my client to do something, it is because it is important to their case.
I tell my clients never to make statements to the police if they are approached, but instead to tell the officer they have an attorney and give them my contact information.
Many people who contact my office are very scared, upset and confused. I don’t ask them to do homework, unless I need information I cannot get without their assistance. I keep my clients well informed because, in my experience, clients with knowledge are less fearful.
5. Do the recent changes in New York State law regarding the legalization of medical marijuana also affect recreational use of marijuana?
The legalization of medical marijuana in New York State only covers the use of marijuana for very specific, listed types of medical conditions.
Many people have misunderstandings about how this change in the law might affect recreational use. They assume that marijuana has become legal, or that there is very relaxed enforcement of existing marijuana laws. This is not true. Even if a person has a medical marijuana card, they cannot legally operate a motor vehicle while under the influence. If a person has ingested marijuana, is driving, and is subsequently arrested, it is important to demand the lab reports to determine if the driver was actually impaired.
If a person has a larger quantity of marijuana on them, the District Attorney can rely on evidence such as the amount of marijuana, scales and the possession of baggies to attempt to build a case that the person was dealing marijuana. This is true even if the person was never actually caught selling.
Other prescription drugs—such as Xanax, Oxycodone and other painkillers—are also covered under the restrictions regarding vehicular use. Even if a person has a prescription for drugs, including marijuana or painkillers, they can be arrested for Driving While Ability Impaired by drugs. Further, if a person is transporting any of these medications, they must be held in the proper pharmacy container with the person's name on it: Otherwise, they can be charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, even if the medication belongs to them.
About The Law Office of Raji S. Zeidan, P.C.
The Law Office of Raji S. Zeidan, P.C. provides welcoming and thorough legal services in the areas of personal injury and criminal defense for clients in Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties, and New York State. For nearly a decade, Raji S. Zeidan Esq. has built a reputation as a law firm that gets results, and has forged lasting relationships with clients who rely on his firm’s services.
Raji S. Zeidan, Esq.
The Law Office of Raji S. Zeidan, P.C.
For a free consultation, call (845) 471-8088
11 Market Street, Suite 211
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
804 Route 9, 2nd Floor
Fishkill, NY 12524
(By appointment only)