What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Getting charged with a crime can have a devastating effect on you and your family’s future. An arrest can result in loss of employment, jail time, and hefty fines.

Regardless of the severity of the crime, your primary concern should be getting your life back on track. The best way to do this is by hiring quality legal representation.

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. With so many criminal attorneys out there, it’s hard to determine who’s right for your case.

If you’re scrambling to find someone to represent you, keep reading.

We’re going over what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer

The Right Experience and Background

It’s imperative you find a criminal lawyer who has experience handling your specific type of charge. Remember, there are many different types of criminal attorneys out there. That doesn’t mean they’re all qualified to help you.

Look for someone who specializes in the branch of criminal law you need. Most attorneys who’ve focused on one area of law will advertise this on their website.

You also want someone who has years of experience defending people in the same situation as you. This means they’ve probably worked cases exactly like yours and know which legal approach works best.

Most attorneys who focus their practice on a certain type of law are members of legal organizations such as the DUI Defense Lawyers Association. Look for badges for these organizations on their website.

You should also look into where they went to school and if they’re a member of your state’s bar association.

Good Communication Skills

A good line of communication with your attorney is an absolute must. When you’re facing the possibility of jail time or huge fines, you need someone who makes themselves available for questions.

It’s important to keep in mind that most criminal attorneys are extremely busy. They’re often in court or consulting with other clients.

That’s why it’s important to ask a potential attorney about their response time and the way their office handles communication. There’s nothing wrong with asking how long it usually takes them to return their clients’ calls.

Many lawyers have a dedicated staff and even paralegals to help with their workload. If the attorney isn’t available, there may be someone in their office that can take your inquiry.

Things can change quickly in criminal law cases. You don’t want something falling between the cracks because of a communication breakdown.

Local Knowledge

It’s very important you work with a criminal lawyer who practices in the city you got arrested. Their local knowledge and reputation will go a long way when trying to get the best deal for you.

Criminal defense attorneys are in and out of the local courts on a regular basis. This means they have a good understanding of how the court system works in your area.

It also means they’re familiar with local judges. This can be a huge advantage for you. Your attorney may be able to steer your case away from judges who have a reputation for coming down hard on people charged with similar crimes.

A local attorney will also have relationships with prosecutors, which may make negotiating a deal much easier. They’re also more likely to know other legal professionals in the area that can help make your case go smoothly.

Free Consultation

After getting charged with a crime, there’s a good chance you’re under financial stress. If the crime has caused you to lose your job, you’ll need to save every penny you can.

Make sure you choose an attorney who offers a free consultation. This allows you to meet with them to discuss your case without having to spend anything.

Most criminal defense attorneys offer this, but you’ll only get about thirty minutes with them. This means you need to prepare yourself for the meeting.

Write down a list of questions in advance. You need to ask what approach they will take with regard to your case and if they think you have a chance of getting a good deal.

You should also ask how long they think your case will last and how much you’ll need to pay for their services.

Legal Fees

Before you hire an attorney, you’ll need to get a clear understanding of their legal fees. Make sure to discuss this in detail so you’re not surprised by unexpected fees down the road.

You’ll also need to determine your budget right away. More experienced lawyers typically charge a higher fee but may work with you on a payment plan.

Criminal defense lawyers either charge by the hour or have a flat rate. A flat fee means you pay the same regardless of the number of hours they spend on your case.

You should also make sure to ask how much they charge if your case goes to trial. This is often billed separately.

You may feel inclined to look for the most inexpensive attorney in your area. However, it may be more advantageous to pay a little more for an experienced attorney who can provide a positive outcome.

Success in the Courtroom

Many criminal attorneys like to settle cases outside the courtroom with plea bargains. In some cases, this is an indication they aren’t very confident about going to court.

If you feel your case could end up in front of a jury, you want an attorney who has extensive courtroom experience. In addition, you want someone who has a good track record of success.

If an attorney prides themselves on their courtroom prowess, they’ll most likely put their past trial outcomes on their website. If you’re having a hard time locating this information, don’t hesitate to ask them about it.

Now You Know What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Lawyer

A criminal charge is serious business, but it’s not the end of your life. If you take the proper steps, you can put the event behind you and get your life back on the right track.

When thinking about what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer, take the tips discussed above into consideration. This will help you find the perfect attorney for your case.

For more articles that will help you make the right life choices, check out our blog today.

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