If you are charged with any crime, whether it is a traffic violation, misdemeanor, or felony, you should retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight to get the charges dismissed or reduced. This can be challenging if you do not know any criminal defense lawyers. In addition, you do not have a lot of time to hire an attorney. An attorney can begin investigating your case and attend any hearings with you regarding your criminal case. How do you find an experienced attorney that is right for you?
What to Look for When Retaining a Criminal Defense Attorney
You have a number of options for obtaining the names of possible attorneys to contact. If you have used an attorney you liked in the past who does not practice criminal law, he may know an experienced colleague to refer you to. You can also check with friends and family members to see if they have used a lawyer that they would recommend. Your state bar referral service or an Internet search are other options. When searching on the Internet, you want to review attorney websites carefully and look for helpful articles on criminal law, successful case results, and client referrals or testimonials.
While you may not have time to do extensive research, you do need to research a few possible lawyers and interview them. These are key areas to focus on when deciding if an attorney is right for you:
- Experience. It is essential that the attorney has extensive criminal defense experience, including handling charges similar to yours. The laws and procedures in criminal cases are different than in civil cases, and you need an attorney who understands the laws.
- Local attorney. It can often be an advantage to retain a local attorney who has a relationship with the judges and prosecutors that could be involved in your case and is familiar with local court rules and procedures.
- Track record of success. You want an attorney who has a track record of success in both negotiating plea agreements and taking cases to trial. While many criminal cases are resolved through a plea bargain, some are not. Your attorney should understand the importance of a thorough investigation and should not be afraid to take your case to trial if this is in your best interests.
- Communicative skills. Having a lawyer who is willing to explain things to you and who does so in a way that you understand is critical. It is important to work with an attorney who you have confidence in and trust. The best way to determine this is to interview a few attorneys. You also want to find out how often they will communicate with you during your case and the best way to contact them.
- Fees. While you should not base your decision on which attorney to hire only on the attorney fees that they charge, this will be a consideration. When researching attorneys, you should find out how much they will charge you.
- References and reviews. You should obtain references—either through people recommending an attorney to you, from former clients, or from reading reviews on third-party online sources.
Interview Questions to Ask an Attorney
Once you have narrowed your choice of attorneys to two to three, you want to take advantage of the free consultation that many criminal defense attorneys offer. You should come to the appointment with a list of questions. Here are some questions that you will want to ask:
- How much of your practice focuses on criminal defense?
- How many cases have you handled that are similar to mine?
- How many criminal cases have you taken to jury trial? What was the outcome?
- What attorney fees do you charge?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of my case? What do you see as the likely outcome?
- Who else besides you will be working on my case?
- Who do I contact if I have questions about my case? How quickly will I receive a response?
Are you facing criminal charges? Our experienced criminal defense legal team would be happy to meet with you to discuss your options and how we can help you to build a strong defense. Call our office today to schedule your free consultation.