November 1, 2022
How to Choose The Best Criminal Defense Attorney? Recommendations
The criminal defense lawyer you choose matters a lot - this blog post will cover the basic guiding principles of how to choose a criminal defense attorney.
Criminal charges will not go away on their own. If you are facing criminal charges, improve your chances of success by hiring a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer who knows the laws, the prosecutors, and the judges - and will defend your rights and fight for the best possible outcome. The lawyer you choose matters a lot - this blog post will cover the basic guiding principles of how to choose a criminal defense attorney.
How to Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Your case is unique - with aspects and details that separate it from others. However, no matter what crime you are accused of, you should ensure your criminal defense lawyer is qualified and capable. Below are some of the criteria we recommend you consider when interviewing or researching how to find a good criminal defense lawyer to represent you:
1. Experience with the Charges You Are Facing
Experience matters, of course, but it’s important that your attorney’s experience is relevant. If you need heart surgery, you want a cardiologist. If you are facing criminal charges, you want a criminal defense lawyer. An attorney who has practiced estate planning law for 25 years will not have the pertinent experience that will help keep you out of jail if you’ve been charged with attempted murder.
Many criminal defense lawyers focus on specific types of crimes, like sex crimes, drug crimes, and white-collar crimes. Ask any criminal defense lawyer that you are considering hiring what types of cases they specialize in.
When you reach out to a criminal defense law firm for a case evaluation, their initial responsiveness is important and will deliver a powerful first impression. Time is of the essence in criminal cases. If it takes four days for a legal assistant to call you back, that particular criminal defense law firm might not be the right fit for you. You need a lawyer that’s going to be on top of your case, and willing to act quickly when the situation calls for it.
3. Ask for Referrals
A common regret for people who have bad experiences with lawyers is not asking for referrals. You can ask a lawyer you are considering hiring if they have any former clients you can speak with. If you have a friend or family lawyer contact who practices another type of law (like business law or family law), you can ask them if there is someone they know who specializes in criminal defense that they would recommend handling your case.
Proceed carefully with asking for recommendations, though. You should never feel obligated to hire someone just because they have an affiliation with someone. If your neighbor says “Oh you’ve got to hire my brother-in-law who just passed the bar in Pennsylvania,” don’t feel obligated. Focus on your mission of finding the best lawyer to represent you.
4. Check Reputable Sources
You can get plenty of information about lawyers on the internet. You can absolutely go on the website of your state or local Pennsylvania bar association and Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints involving your potential attorney.
Review websites like Google+, Facebook, and Yelp, as well as Avvo, Super Lawyers, and Martindale-Hubbell can also give you insight into what previous clients say. One bad review shouldn’t be a deciding factor in your hiring decision but look for themes from multiple reviews.
5. Clear Communication
Hiring a criminal defense lawyer does not mean you can sit back and not worry about your problems because your attorney will take care of everything. You and your lawyer will need to work together on your case to achieve the best possible outcome. Ask them how they will typically communicate with you about your case. Some lawyers prefer to have phone calls, while others like to text and email.
6. Local Courts Experience
Your lawyer’s experience in criminal law is of course important. But does your lawyer have experience in your local court, with the local prosecutors and judges? If your case moves to trial, your lawyer’s experience in your local court will be an important consideration. Ask them when they most recently, and how often, they have appeared in court in your jurisdiction. Do they have a good working relationship with the judges - and do they often secure not-guilty verdicts?
7. Clear Fee Structure
Like it or not, budget and cost have to be a consideration in choosing a criminal defense attorney. Having pending criminal charges is stressful, without the added stress of legal bills that could potentially bankrupt your family. In your consultation, your potential criminal defense lawyer should be able to explain in very simple terms how they will charge you. The most expensive criminal defense attorney isn’t always the best choice. The cheapest isn’t either. There are many criminal defense lawyers with fair and affordable fee structures.
8. Learn More About Other Employees
Hiring a criminal defense law firm is not just hiring your lawyer. You will work with the law firm’s staff, which may include receptionists, paralegals, investigators, and case managers. Before you retain a lawyer, ask who you will be mainly dealing with when communicating about your case. Does the staff seem competent and organized?
9. They Take Direction from You
At the end of the day, your lawyer works for you. The big decisions about your case, like whether you plead guilty or go to trial, are yours to make. While you should consider your lawyer’s advice, your lawyer should respect you enough to understand your goals and priorities, which are unique to you. For example, if keeping a professional license - or an opportunity to get a license - is critical, your lawyer must be mindful of how a licensing board will look at your case’s outcome.
10. Follow Your Gut
Don’t discount your intuition. Consider the following:
- How does the criminal defense attorney speak to you?
- Do they acknowledge your situation and empathize with you?
- Do they speak to you sincerely, and treat you like an equal, or are they condescending or paternalistic?
If a lawyer you are considering hiring does not treat you with dignity and respect in your initial interview, consider whether they are the best fit for you.
What Should I Ask a Criminal Defense Attorney I’m Thinking of Hiring?
Your initial meeting with a criminal defense lawyer is a chance for both you and your potential attorney to consider the benefits of working together. You should take the time to prepare for your meeting so that you can maximize the value of your time together and get answers to your questions.
You can prepare for your meeting by listing out all of your questions or concerns about your case, your attorney’s background, and what their role (and your role) will be in your case. Some of the questions you should consider asking will be:
- How long have you been practicing criminal defense law?
- Have you handled cases similar to mine?
- Who else will be working on my case?
- What is your experience going to trial on cases like mine?
- Do I have options to avoid a trial?
- How long will my case take to resolve?
- How much will my defense attorney representation cost?
Legal defense can be expensive, and when your future is on the line, the investment in a capable defense lawyer may be necessary and worthwhile. However, the cost is a factor you and your family must consider when looking to find a criminal defense attorney.
Summing It Up
Your criminal case may be your first trip to court, but it shouldn’t be your lawyer’s. Most of the time - you have just one shot to fight your charges. The outcome of your case can determine your future, and the lawyer you choose can majorly impact your criminal case’s ultimate outcome. While you should not unreasonably delay hiring a lawyer, take the time to find an experienced, local attorney who can aggressively represent you.
If you would like to speak with a qualified, knowledgeable, and experienced lawyer about your case, contact Tauber Law. We will treat you with empathy and dignity and if we represent you, we will be right by your side throughout your legal matter. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation.
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