When Mike Tyson was arrested on a felony charge back in the 90s he had the wrong attorney from the start. His case may be old news, but the lessons you can learn from it definitely are not. Tyson himself even talks about them at length in his raw autobiography Undisputed Truth.
- Money doesn’t automatically buy you a good defense. Mike Tyson spent over $1 million dollars on his defense lawyer, and he still ended up in prison. It’s not how much you pay; it’s the skill and experience of the attorney that really counts. And unfortunately Tyson’s lawyer was a tax attorney who had never tried a criminal case in a county court before.
- Local attorneys are the way to go. Tyson’s case was tried in Indianapolis, Indiana. His lead attorney, Vince Fuller, was from New York and refused to listen to advice from the local Indianapolis attorney working with him on the case. Big mistake. The benefit of a local attorney is that they know the key players in their own system, and how to deal with them, meaning they can get you a home-court advantage. In his book Tyson writes that if the local attorney were in charge of his case, he’s sure he would have been found innocent.
- When you’ve been arrested, you need a CRIMINAL lawyer. Mike Tyson walked into court with a tax attorney in charge of his case. That was a set up for failure. His attorney not only did a poor job of questioning witnesses, but also refused to submit key evidence in the case, again failing to listen to the local criminal attorney’s advice.
- Make sure you personally sign off on the attorney before hiring him/her. Tyson let his manager at the time, Don King, choose his lawyer. Tyson had no involvement even though he had been arrested on a major felony charge. Not a good move. Not only did King choose the wrong lawyer for the case, but Tyson also admits he didn’t get along with his attorney from the beginning. His attorney chose a defense strategy that Tyson didn’t agree with, without consulting Tyson. Even if you trust the person hiring your lawyer, make sure you still meet the attorney and read his reviews for yourself. You need an attorney who you trust and who will communicate with you before making major decisions regarding your case. Because remember, it’s your life on the line.