3 Reasons You Want to Hire a Board-Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer [for 2021]

If you are in legal trouble, you want only the best and in Florida that means hiring a board-certified attorney. Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead said, “certification should be the capstone for a lawyer’s professionalism goals.” All board-certified attorneys in Florida exhibit (1) expertise, (2) professionalism, and (3) credibility. While there are some phenomenal attorneys in Florida that are not board-certified, the bulk of the exceptional attorneys have taken the extra-steps to become board-certified by the Florida Bar (www.Floridabar.org) These attorneys have reached the pinnacle of their practice.

Board-certified attorneys are a cut above the rest of the pack both in skill, expertise, and professionalism. Only the Florida Bar can confer board-certification status on an attorney. The honor cannot be purchased from marketing organizations like www.superlawyers.com or others.[i] There is a lot of interesting marketing out there that looks fancy and sophisticated, but it cannot compete with board-certification.[ii]

In terms of expertise, only a select few can attain board-certification. At the moment, there are a little over 400 board-certified criminal trial attorneys in the State of Florida. That means that of the total attorneys in Florida, less than ½ of a percent are board-certified in criminal trial.[iii] The board certification for criminal trial was created by the Florida Bar on 1 July 1986.[iv]

All the board-certified criminal trial attorneys had to demonstrate a higher level of proficiency to be conferred the status of board-certification. To be board-certified in criminal trial, the attorney must meet the following minimum standards:[v]

  • Practice of law for at least five years;
  • Substantial involvement in the specialty of criminal trial law — 30% or more — during the three years immediately preceding application;
  • Handling of at least 25 contested criminal cases, with 20 jury trials, tried to a verdict, 15 which involved a felony, and 10 as lead counsel;
  • 45 hours of approved criminal trial law certification continuing legal education in the three years immediately preceding application;
  • Peer review; and,
  • A written examination.

See Rule 6-8.3.[vi]

Calling the test “a written examination” does not do the test any justice. The test is a 6-hour test similar to the bar exam (only it is one day instead of two) and it rigorously tests the applicant’s knowledge and skill in criminal trial procedure and substantive law (in both state and federal practices). The general topics on this mini-bar exam range from search and seizure issues, to Miranda issues, to right to attorney and fair trial issues, to cruel and unusual punishment issues. Further, the exam tests the applicant’s ability and understanding of the rules of procedure and evidence. To say that the mini-bar exam is grueling is an understatement, but it is a small price to pay to be one of the elite practitioners in Florida. Only the select few survive.

As far as professionalism, the committee that oversees board-certification for criminal trial conducts a lengthy background investigation into all of the trial and substantive motions that the applicant has participated in during the applicable time period. In this regard, the applicant must document all the cases that he or she tried to conclusion in terms of dates, charges, defendant, verdict, and percentage of trial that was conducted by the applicant. The committee then contacts the judges and opposing attorneys or co-chair attorneys to get their input on the applicant. The application process is lengthy, but necessary. If the attorney is not a “straight-shooting” professional, then it will be uncovered during this process.

Only the most professional attorneys can attain board-certification. These attorneys are respected by the peers (although they might not be liked or friends, a good adversary’s praise is often a sign that the attorney is a quality attorney). Board-certified attorneys are professional through and through.

Lastly, credibility. The Florida Bar (www.floridabar.org) is the only organization in Florida that can grant board-certification after the applicant has been thoroughly vetted by his or her peers, met tough criteria, and passed a grueling examination process. Only then has the attorney earned the right to call themselves an expert in a specific field in Florida. Florida does not allow non-certified attorneys to call themselves experts (while they be specializing in a particular field only board-certified attorneys are experts in a field of law in Florida.)

If you are in trouble with the law and desperately need help, then get yourself the best help you can get by hiring and retaining a board-certified criminal trial attorney to get you through the crisis. Less than ½ of 1 percent of attorneys in Florida are board-certified in criminal trial. You will be glad you hired a board-certified criminal trial attorney.

Anthony Candela is the Trial Dog and a Board-Certified attorney. He opened the Candela Law Firm, P.A. in 2014 and handles criminal trials and appeals (as well as estate planning, wills, and trusts). He received his J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law in 2000 and his B.A. in Political Science from King’s College in 1996. As an expert in criminal law and procedure, he has tried over a hundred cases to verdict. Since 2008, he has been certified and recertified by the Florida Bar in Criminal Trial three times. He has also argued several dozen appeals. In the federal system, he is admitted to the Middle District of Florida and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal. #candelalawfirm #thetrialdog

www.candelalawfirm.com @candelalawfirm

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No. 21-007 board-certification

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[i] The list of attorneys listed at www.superlawyers.com are usually very good attorneys, but many are not board-certified. Only the Florida Bar can grant board-certified status to an attorney that meets exacting standards.

[ii] There are a lot of interesting marketing in terms of awards (that no one has ever heard of before) and paid memberships (to groups or organizations that place placards and logos on websites). Some of these are valid, many are not. Many are paid forms of advertising that suggests skill and expertise are nothing more than paid advertising. Ask yourself, do you want an attorney with verifiable skills and expertise that is recognized for that expertise or the attorney that bought some cool swag and put it on his website, but has no idea what he is doing? The question scarcely escapes its own statement.

[iii] https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2018/05/new_aba_data_reveals/#:~:text=Among%20other%20findings%20from%20the,)%20and%20Illinois%20(63%2C422). (2018 78.244 attorneys in Florida) and https://www.galiganilaw.com/attorney-profiles/board-certified-specialist-in-criminal-trial-law/#:~:text=Out%20of%20all%20attorneys%20in,specialist%20in%20criminal%20trial%20law. (2019 443 board-certified in criminal trial)

[iv] https://www-media.floridabar.org/uploads/2020/07/200-Florida-Certification-Plan.pdf

[v] https://www.floridabar.org/about/cert/cert-applications-and-requirements/cert-cr/

[vi] https://www-media.floridabar.org/uploads/2020/09/Ch-6-2021_03-SEP-RRTFB-9-3-2020.pdf

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