In the United States, criminal defense law is a complex field. For those who have been accused of a crime, it’s important to choose an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney immediately once you learn that you’re being investigated or charged with a crime. That way, you can begin building a solid case for your defense.
However, choosing the right lawyer for your case can be difficult if you don’t know how to rate your options. With over 243,378 defense attorneys across the United States, chances are some of them can help you win your case. There are many things to consider when deciding which potential lawyers will be best qualified to represent you in court.
Here are factors to consider when choosing the best criminal defense attorney for your particular situation:
1. Determine the nature of the charge against you.
The first thing to consider is what kind of charges you will face. For example, if you are accused of a felony, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney handling many different cases like yours. Less serious offenses, such as misdemeanors and infractions, can usually be handled by smaller law firms or solo attorneys who do not usually deal with criminal cases.
If you’ve been arrested, consider these four checklists on what you should do after your arrest.
2. Determine your financial situation.
How much money do you have for lawyer’s fees? Can you afford to hire the most expensive lawyer in town? Or will you need to focus on hiring someone more reasonably priced? Make sure that your potential lawyers know your budget limitations upfront to avoid wasting time talking to lawyers who will charge too much for your case.
You also have to remember that your budget should include paying your bail bond to get out of jail temporarily while waiting for your trial. Thankfully, there are other ways to pay this through companies, such as Abba Bail Bonds, that could help you pay. Visit their page for more details on how to post a bail bond.
3. Determine the lawyer’s general philosophy of defense.
Some criminal defense attorneys focus on pleading out their clients to get lighter sentences. If this is not the kind of plea bargain arrangement you want, then keep looking until you find an attorney who specializes in bringing cases to trial and fighting for clients’ rights before judges and juries.
4. Determine if the lawyer has experience with cases like yours.
Not all criminal cases are alike, so it’s crucial to choose a lawyer with specific knowledge about your circumstances. For example, if you’re being charged with drunk driving, you should find a criminal defense attorney who has worked on the same cases like yours before.
5. Determine if the lawyer will provide good references for previous clients.
One of the best ways to know if a potential criminal defense attorney is worth hiring is by checking with other people who have hired that lawyer in the past. Ask your candidate for references from past clients, and call those people during your initial consultation. If these former customers are happy with their legal services, this should help ease your mind about hiring the same lawyer.
6. Determine if you can get along well with your potential criminal defense attorney.
It may seem unimportant at first, but consider whether or not you feel comfortable talking to and working with a particular lawyer. After all, you will be working closely together throughout your case, so it’s important that you can get along well with each other.
7. Ask about the inclusion of additional fees in your legal fees.
Some lawyers include certain service fees into their overall fees for representing your case. For example, some attorneys charge a flat fee for getting a plea bargain arranged on your behalf after consultation. Others charge an hourly rate for reviewing evidence and going over witness statements with you before trial. These can vary depending on the lawyer’s level of experience and success rate in previous cases like yours. Make sure you know what services come included in your overall legal fees, and find out if there are any additional charges that you may have to pay to budget accordingly.
8. Determine if the lawyer is an experienced negotiator.
If your case is being taken to trial, then it’s vital to hire a criminal defense attorney who has negotiation skills in addition to trial experience. You will need someone who can prepare well for court while still working behind the scenes with prosecutors on your behalf. An experienced negotiator will know which arguments give you the best chance of winning before a judge or jury while also having some sway over how much time and money the prosecution wants your case to take up.
9. Inquire about hiring lead investigator(s) to look into the details of your case.
If you can’t afford a private investigator, then make sure that your criminal defense attorney has access to investigators on staff or through outside agencies. Hiring a good lead investigator will help your lawyer better understand what kind of evidence is being held against you and who might be willing to offer favorable testimony in court. Without an investigator doing background work for them, some lawyers have little idea about what kind of evidence they’re up against until it’s too late.
10. Find out how accessible the lawyer will be during your trial.
Is the criminal defense attorney going to be available twenty-four hours a day? How quickly can they return phone calls when you need help? How much time is the lawyer willing to spend working on your case himself? All of these are essential factors regarding whether or not you can depend on this person for good legal advice.
It is important always to have good communication between you and your criminal defense attorney during your case. Ensure that you choose a legal expert who is easily reachable by phone or email when you need answers about your case or any new developments in the legal proceedings against you.
11. Meet with the attorney at least three times before hiring them.
You should meet with a potential criminal defense attorney for several consultations before hiring them. The more contact you have, the better chance you will determine if hiring that particular lawyer is right for you.