If you’ve been charged with a crime, whether your case is a small misdemeanor or a serious felony, you need to seek legal counsel with a criminal defense attorney. It is a very serious matter, and the outcome can impact the rest of your life. Some of the penalties and consequences include fines, jail time, loss of relationships, having a criminal record, and loss of future job opportunities, just to name a few.
Being charged with a crime or having a lawsuit filed against you is traumatic enough, and the lengthy road ahead often becomes very complicated and stressful. A good criminal defense attorney will explain your rights and can mean the difference between a reduced plea bargain or dismissal and a jail sentence. A criminal defense attorney will help you understand:
- The nature of the charges filed
- Any available defenses
- What plea bargains are likely to be offered
- What to expect after trial or conviction
What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Attorney
You deserve to have legal counsel that is not only experienced, but who will listen and be compassionate.
Specific Legal Skills
What skills does an attorney need for your particular case? Depending on the charges or suit, consider their knowledge of defenses involving things like polygraphs, sketches, photographs, crime scene investigation, witness/victim/police interviewing, etc.
Where to Start Looking
Asking family and friends for references is a great way to start. If personal references aren’t fruitful or even a possibility, online research is the next step. Search specifically for a criminal defense attorney in your area. For example, “ San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney.”
You can even search for an attorney who specializes in your particular type of case. There are criminal defense attorneys who specialize in cases financial crimes, domestic violence, DUIs, etc.
Once you have narrowed down your search you should ask specific questions to give you a better idea of whether or not they are the right criminal defense attorney for you. You deserve to have legal counsel that is not only experienced, but someone who will listen and be understanding.
Asking a few questions will help you get a better idea of their skills and how comfortable you feel with him or her. Here is a list of possible questions:
- Do you have any experience handling cases similar to mine?
- How much of my criminal case will you personally handle?
- How many jury trials have you litigated?
- How often do your clients go to trial?
- How often do you work out plea agreements or ask for a lesser charge?
- What are your attorney’s fees, and how are they calculated? Do you offer a payment plan?
- Would you be willing to provide references from clients you’ve helped?
Attorney-client privilege and confidentiality can apply to initial consultations, so they will have a duty to maintain confidentiality with your case, even if you don’t hire them. Do your research in finding the best criminal defense attorney for you.
Hiring Your Criminal Defense Attorney
When making your final decision, keep a few things in mind:
- Which attorney has the most experience with the charges I’m facing?
- Which one offered advice that was most helpful?
- In which one am I most confident?
- Whose legal fees seemed most reasonable?
- Which attorney did I feel most comfortable speaking with?
Don’t take the risk of representing yourself—hire a professional to protect your best interests. Take the time to find the criminal defense attorney that you need and deserve.