Felony convictions are more common than you think, with eight percent of the overall population having one. If you’re in need of a criminal lawyer, you shouldn’t hire the first one you find. It’s important to ask a couple of questions before getting started to ensure that you have the best candidate representing you. When first meeting with any criminal defense attorneys, you should always bring any documents you have pertaining to the case, any police paperwork you have, as well as the police report, and your bail papers.
Depending on the case, some criminal defense attorneys will also want to know if there are any additional defendants, witnesses, or victims that they should need to be aware of before getting started. This helps prevent a conflict of interest in the event that any of the parties are in contact with or have even been represented by the law office before.
There are are also a couple of questions you should ask before deciding if the criminal attorney is right for you. This can include:
What is their Background and Experience?
When you meet with any criminal defense attorneys its important to find out what their level of experience is and if they have a background in defending cases like yours. For instance, if you’ve been charged with a DUI you won’t need a lawyer who’s primary experience is with felony homicide cases. Websites like Lawyer Legion can provide a database to help make finding experienced lawyers easier; however, you’ll still want to investigate them personally to decide if they are the right fit. Asking about how often they handle cases like yours and what the usual outcomes are, can help give you more insight into their track records. You should also ask what their relationship is with the prosecutor and if they feel negotiations will be possible.
What is Their Assessment of Your Case?
Additionally, it’s important to ask what their professional opinion is when it comes to your case and options. Do they think it will go in your favor? Are there any potential problems they might foresee? Asking this to multiple criminal attorneys can help give you an idea of which firm would be best entrusted with your case. For instance, if one attorney says there won’t be any issues, while another lawyer points out specific problems that can occur, depending on the attorney’s experience levels, it could be in your best interest to go with the one that anticipates issues but has a plan to help resolve it.
Managing Your Case
Another important question to ask is about case management. Be sure to ask if they will be available when you need them, or if there is another party they could contact should you need assistance when they’re unavailable. Be sure to know everyone you can contact, and meet with them if possible. This will give you the best picture of the legal team that will be defending your case.
Lastly, ask how you are being charged. Do they charge by the hour or is there a flat fee? Sometimes criminal defense attorneys will offer competitive prices, so speaking to multiple options can give you an advantage. For example, if the attorney you want is more expensive than you’d like, try negotiating based on a lower rate quoted by another office. However, it is important to keep a realistic outlook, as more experienced lawyers with higher reputations will most often come at a higher cost. Make sure to get all the financial information possible upfront so that you won’t have to worry about your case costing you more than you bargained for.
If you are in need of a criminal defense attorney, don’t settle for the first one you find. Depending on how much time you have before your trial, take the opportunity to interview multiple candidates so that you can be sure you have the right law office representing you.