How to Choose a Ciminal Defense Attorney

Often, when an individual needs a criminal defense attorney, they are nervous and overwhelmed at the prospect of the charges they are facing. Here are some tips to find the right attorney to fit your needs.

Do you need a criminal defense attorney? You will only need a criminal defense attorney if you’ve been arrested or received a citation to appear in court to face misdemeanor or felony charges. Victims of domestic violence or sexual assault who do not want to testify can also seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney to protect their rights.

What type of attorney should I hire? If you are facing charges, you will want an attorney whose law practice is focused on criminal defense. Other attorneys may have criminal defense as a small part of their practice, but you want to ensure that your attorney has the experience and dedication to handle your case.

What is the most important quality to look for in an attorney? Trust. Trusting your attorney is essential. If you don’t trust your attorney, you are likely to be wary of their advice, right or wrong. In criminal defense, sometimes cases resolve with higher sentences for a defendant because they did not trust the advice of their attorney. It can also cost a client additional time and money to seek out the advice of a second attorney. Make sure you are comfortable with your attorney’s advice from the day you meet them.

What questions should you ask?  You should ask about your potential attorney’s experience with the charges you are facing. You want to ensure that your attorney has handled similar cases in the past and you need to be comfortable with their ability to handle your charges. You also want to discuss the fees and determine exactly what is included. A good criminal defense attorney should be able to spot the issues involved in your case during your first meeting and will tell you if they will need to file additional legal documents to reduce bail, suppress the evidence, get additional discovery, etc. Once the attorney spots the issues, they should be able to tell you what will be included in the fee so that later you are not paying unanticipated additional fees. If you are not comfortable about their conclusions, then re-read #3 above and move on to the next potential attorney. Finally, ask whether or not your attorney has conducted trials. The best way for an attorney to prove they are a strong advocate, is to show their skills in court. Attorneys who have gained the respect of prosecutors tend to achieve better results for their clients. You don’t want an attorney to use your case as a test of their skills – leave that for the next client.

Can I negotiate the fees? Yes, but there may not be much wiggle room. Attorney’s will generally calculate the time a case might take by a standard hourly rate that is based on their experience and needs at that time (which they may or may not share with you) to determine the fee. Be nice when you negotiate: it’s a well-known secret that attorneys quote a higher fee if they foresee difficulty.  Alternatively, if you are genuine and appear to be able to work with the attorney, rates can lower. Criminal defense attorneys are usually kind-hearted people who chose their field in order to help people. If you are kind and work well with them, they will work with you.