What to look for before hiring an attorney.
Have you or has someone you know been arrested or charged with a criminal offense? If so, you or the person will need the help of a qualified and experienced criminal defense lawyer right away. Before hiring an attorney, there are a few things you should consider.
Ultimately, who you choose as your criminal defense lawyer can have a profound impact on the way your case ultimately gets resolved. A good defense lawyer will provide you with support and will guide you through the important preliminary stages of your case.
Why You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Any criminal charge, whether it appears to be major or minor, is a very serious matter. Any person who is facing a criminal charge has the possibility of receiving severe penalties and consequences, including time in jail, receiving a public a criminal record, and the loss of friends and future employment, among other things. While a few legal matters can be handled alone, a criminal case of any nature requires legal advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney who will preserve your rights and secure the best possible result in your case.
At the start of your criminal case, a criminal defense attorney take time to meet with you in person and should explain:
- The name, severity, and the factual basis of the charges filed against you.
- The legal defenses available
- What plea arrangements are possible
- What is expected after a plea, a trial, or a criminal conviction.
Your lawyer will go through any police reports and take time to allow you to read all the case materials. You lawyer will also listen to your side of the story, and your lawyer may personally contact people who can act as witnesses on your behalf.
What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Criminal defense is a specific branch of the legal field. Qualified criminal defense attorneys regularly handle a variety of criminal charges, including felony charges, misdemeanor charges, drug cases, assault crimes, driving under the influence (DUI) offenses, among others.
Criminal charges can be filed against you in a State Superior, District, or Municipal Court, or they may arise under federal law and be filed in the Federal District Court.
When searching for a high quality criminal defense lawyer, you’ll want to find the best one for your case. As such, you should concentrate on the lawyer’s expertise, skill level, and knowledge.
Lawyers who have served as a prosecutor or judge previously in their careers can sometimes provide you a huge advantage in your case. For instance, you may need someone familiar with crime scene investigations; witness, victim, or police interviewing, and extensive knowledge of evidence, polygraphs, sketches, photographs, and video.
Your criminal defense lawyer should be eager and willing help you develop a sound defense strategy. In cases where you have a legal defense, this means the lawyer and his staff should work to prepare your case for a trial. In cases, where there maybe is no applicable defense, your attorney may be able to get the prosecutor to agree to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor or to lessen the severity of the punishment for the crime. Your lawyer can also work to reduce or eliminate jail time, or work to get you probation in lieu of jail.
How to Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer
There are numerous ways to find a criminal defense lawyer. Your friends and family are a good place to start and may already know a criminal defense attorney who has a strong reputation for good work and honesty. The website AVVO is an online resource to assist in your search for a local attorney. Once identified, look through the firm or attorneys’ website for additional background before contacting them.
Questions to Ask a Criminal Defense Lawyer.
You should feel totally comfortable speaking with your criminal defense attorney concerning all aspects of your criminal charge. During your initial meeting, the attorney should provide information on his background and provide ample time for you to ask questions. Below are some of the questions you should ask:
- How many years of experience do you have handling cases like mine?
- On an average month, how much of my criminal case will you handle?
- In your career recently, how many jury trials have you litigated?
- How often do you work out plea agreements or ask for a lesser charge?
- What are your attorney’s fees, and how are they calculated?
- Does your office you offer a payment plan?
Criminal Defense Lawyer Fees.
The cost of hiring a criminal defense lawyer will vary depending on a number of factors in your case. Your fee will depend on the attorney’s experience, reputation, and track record. The geographical location of the court and the distance from the lawyer’s office can also be a factor. Most criminal defense attorneys charge for their services using a flat fee arrangement. Some law firms may also give you a payment plan to pay off your fees. Some firms may require an upfront fee payment before working on the case. In all cases, it is wise to consult with a variety of criminal defense lawyers. You need to find one you feel comfortable with in representing you.
Lastly, if you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you may be able to receive a court-appointed attorney. If this applies to you, speak to a public defender in your area for more information.