About Attorney Sarah Toney
Read through a brief interview with founding attorney, Sarah Toney. To speak with her personally about your current legal matter, or if you are in need of professional legal advice regarding your criminal charge call (888) 473-4058today.
What made you choose a career in criminal law?
My first legal job was the summer between my first and second year of law school. It was at a criminal defense firm and on my first day they gave me a murder case of a clearly innocent man. I was totally hooked on the case, and I took a month off of law school in my second year to try the case with my boss. I loved the case not because he was innocent, but because I loved helping him and I loved the work. That case was life changing, and even though I went to school to practice another area of law, that case was when I knew I'd found my true calling. I stayed at that firm for 10 years before starting my own criminal defense firm.
In your opinion, what sets your firm apart from other firms in the area?
We are client focused. We understand that this is probably the absolute
worst point in your life, and it is terrifying to face criminal charges.
We know that along with that comes a lot of questions and a lot of uncertainty,
and we are here to help guide the client through the process. We are here
to handhold and make sure we can make the client feel as comfortable as
possible. Even though the outcome is never guaranteed, we will walk you
through all aspects of the case, answer questions along the way and talk
through all the outcomes. And not just at the first meeting, but throughout
Also, over the past 12 years, I have strived to create a good reputation with the prosecutors and the judges. I have never done anything underhanded or dishonest, and so prosecutors who know me know that they can trust me, and my clients benefit from that. I am never late to court unless something unusual comes up, and am always prepared so the judges know I take each case seriously.
Tell us about a case that you are particularly proud of.
I argued the winning appeal for the former Chief Judge of a nearby county when he was arrested and charged with a DUI. There was an issue with the blood that was taken from him that night, and the Second District Appellate Court agreed with my argument that the blood should be excluded from trial.
What steps do you take to prepare for a difficult case?
I tell my law students and the lawyers that I mentor that you are preparing for cases you don't even have yet. I am preparing for the big cases early on by developing a reputation for being a good and honest lawyer. I am preparing by going to seminars and taking classes in areas that help my clients. I have made contacts with the experts that might be needed in certain cases. I prepare by learning the client’s story and keeping them informed as the case goes on. And of course in addition to all that, I spend hours reading through evidence and determining what is needed to defend a case.
How do you view your role in the attorney-client relationship?
My role is to usher them through the process while making them see that I am doing everything I can on their behalf. I am there to support them, to advise them on the process and what to expect, and I am there to defend them to the fullest extent of my abilities.
What sets you apart from other criminal defense attorneys – why is this important?
My training sets me apart from the other defense lawyers in Illinois. I have spent hundreds of hours away from my practice and my family to get the best training I can get so that I am better defense attorney. I have attended a 24-day Trial Lawyers College in Wyoming, which is an intensive course for criminal defense attorneys that I was lucky enough to be admitted to. I have taken science classes in blood and drug testing, field sobriety classes to go through the same training as police officers, and learned trial techniques from some of the most well respected trial lawyers in the country. It is worth the time and money I've spent in order to be the best lawyer I can be for my clients.
How does having experience benefit your clients?
A good defense attorney doesn't simply know the law. A good defense attorney has experience in that county, that courthouse, that courtroom. A good defense attorney knows the prosecutor and the judge and how each of them can affect your client’s case. Having experience in all those areas means you can better advise your clients on what to expect and on realistic outcomes. The Cook County court system is unlike any other system, so in order for a defense lawyer to be effective at all, they have to have had experience and know how that system works. I have had countless cases where prosecutors are willing to do something that benefits my client because they have worked with me before.
What types of cases do you specifically handle?
I handle DUI defense cases and all criminal cases from the investigation phase, all the way through trial.
In your opinion, what is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I love helping my clients. Each of them has their own story but they are all concerned for their future. I am here to help guide them through the process and get them the best outcome for their scenario. Many cases aren't black or white what a client needs. It's not just guilty or not guilty. Sometimes it's about saving their job or their driver's license, and because we know each of our clients and what they want and need, we get them what's best for them.
What advice do you most often give your clients & why?
The advice I give my clients the most is don't google your questions about your case, ask me directly. So often you can scare yourself so badly by reading something that doesn't apply to you, and I could have saved you from that stress. Also, show up early to court and dress professionally to show that you respect the Court.