If the police accuse you of breaking the law, you may be looking at incarceration, heavy fines, and a record which will affect your chances at getting a job, getting into school, or securing a loan.
Everyone has found themselves on the wrong side of the law for one reason or another, whether by accident or through unwise choices. Sometimes the results are irritating or embarrassing, but sometimes they are deeply serious.
You need to find a criminal defense lawyer right away if you are charged with a crime. You need a professional to advocate for you, to make sure that you are treated appropriately by the justice system, and to negotiate the best outcome possible so you can go on with your life.
Here are six tips for finding the best possible criminal defense attorney for your situation.
1. Find Someone with Expertise
There are many crimes in the statute books, and few attorneys will profess to be skilled at all of them. You need to find representation from someone who ha a good track record in helping people in situations like yours.
If you have been accused of a white collar crime like money laundering, you will need a lawyer who has specific expertise defending people in those kinds of cases. On the other hand, if you hurt someone because you didn’t have your gun’s safety on, you need an attorney with experience helping people like you.
Check out the websites of attorneys in your area and observe what kinds of people they help. You don’t want to be someone’s test case in a particular area.
Look at the attorney’s representative matters and outcomes, and see if he or she has succeeded in getting acquittals in charges like the ones you are facing. Also, check out their certifications and bar memberships. You want to know that they are up on the latest legal developments and have the respect of their peers.
2. Ask for Recommendations
If the police charge you with a crime, you have the constitutional right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford one, the court will assign you one. Public defenders are important members of the bar, but if you have the resources you should try to hire someone to represent you. The cost of a lawyer in a criminal situation is usually more than worth what you could lose if you don’t have excellent representation.
Ask people you trust if they have recommendations: word of mouth is often the most effective way to find the right attorney for you. If you know any lawyers, ask them: not to represent you- especially if they are not criminal attorneys- but if they know someone suitable to assist.
3. Interview Your Options
If you can, try to speak with a handful of attorneys before you select one. There are many lawyers out there who will want to help you, but not everyone will be right for you.
If you were in a motorcycle accident where someone was hurt, you may want to speak to someone who has represented people in motorcycle crashes. However, you may also want to speak to someone with more general knowledge of vehicular mishaps. Unless you meet face to face, you may not know who you want to work with,
With criminal charges, the stakes are high and your life is on the line. You want an attorney you trust and with whom you can communicate clearly. Don’t rush to retain the first person who offers you help.
4. Discuss Strategy
When you speak to a prospective attorney, ask them what their strategy may be in your case. For example, if you are involved in an assault charge, you may want to know if there are any self defense laws which might apply.
You will want to know if he or she advises negotiating a plea deal or going to trial. Ask about who they plan to depose for witness testimony, and what case law they may rely on in their arguments.
You want to ascertain that they know what they are doing in this area of the law and that they have a viable plan of action.
5. Inquire About Process
When you speak to an attorney, ask if they will be the person who will be representing you in court or if he has colleagues. You also have the right to ask about their caseload and support staff. You want to be sure that this person handling your case will show up to trial and meetings, return your messages, and be accessible to your questions and concerns.
You can also ask about similar cases they have handled and how they resolved them. Not every charge is the same, but you can quickly get a sense whether this attorney is friendly with prosecutors and has a track record of negotiating good deals for his clients.
6. Feel Free to Change
You may like the criminal defense attorney you hire at first but become displeased with the arrangement later. Does he or she return your calls? Does he or she answer your questions?
Maybe your lawyer is good but too busy: they keep asking for postponements or sending associates to represent you in court. Maybe your lawyer is pressuring you to take a plea deal when you think you have a better chance at trial.
You deserve an attorney who will do a good job in a way that you prefer. As with any business relationship, not everyone gets along with everybody.
You can switch attorneys if you do not like the way your lawyer is handling your case. It is crucial that you have full faith in your legal representation.
Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer Who Is Right For You and Your Situation
Not all criminal defense attorneys are alike. If you want to find a criminal defense lawyer who is the right choice for you, you need to make an educated decision. You need to do your due diligence and investigate their background, talk to their references, and see how they have done in similar cases to yours.
The stakes are high. Make sure your lawyer’s qualifications are exceptional.
For more information on situations where legal representation is a good idea, check out our blog.