It’s safe to say that most people go through life hoping they’ll never need a criminal defense attorney. But if you’ve been accused of a crime, or you’re being questioned in connection with one, you’ll want to find an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Where do you start?
Here are five things you should keep in mind when looking for the right match with a criminal defense attorney:
- Background and Experience – It might sound obvious, but the first thing you want to look for in a criminal defense attorney is someone who has experience representing clients who are facing criminal charges. It might be cheaper to find a more inexperienced lawyer, but do you want to be the learning curve for someone just starting out? You should probably ask what year he or she finished law school, and what year he or she passed the bar exam. How long has he or she been practicing? Is he or she licensed in both state and federal court? How many criminal cases has he or she handled?
- Success rate – What good is a lawyer who has tried 200 cases, but has lost 160 of them? It’s important to ask how many cases he or she has won, and get specifics on the outcome of the most important cases. Ask about losses in court, too, and get details of what went wrong. A good attorney will speak freely about successes and failures in the system.
- Money – The better the lawyer, the higher the cost. That’s obvious. You will have to consider your budget before your first consultation with any potential criminal defense lawyer. Does he or she charge a flat fee? What is that fee? Or does he or she charge by the hour? What other hidden costs should you expect besides his or her fees? Can he or she give you an estimate up front of what a case like yours will cost?
- Personality – You might be meeting with the best, most notable criminal defense attorney in town, but you just don’t feel right when you sit down for the initial consult. It could be that his or her personality and style of communication are just not compatible with yours. If that’s the case, then you should probably look for another lawyer – someone with whom you feel comfortable. You and your attorney will be communicating a lot. It’s important that you are compatible.
- Reputation – Maybe your lawyer is known for winning cases, and that’s a good thing. But is he or she also known for having solid working relationships with other lawyers, prosecutors and judges? Or is he or she better known for his or her temper and getting thrown out of court for contempt? These are things you should consider by talking to former clients and others within the legal system.
Hiring a criminal defense attorney is the single most important thing you can do when facing criminal charges or facing a criminal investigation. If you or someone you love is facing legal troubles, call Jacqui Ford’s office today.