Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, you should consider hiring a criminal defense attorney. Criminal charges are as serious as you can get in the justice system, so you want to make sure that you have the best representation possible.
7 Things to Consider When Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
1. Attorney’s specialty. If you are charged with domestic violence or abuse, you want a criminal defense attorney who has extensive experience in that area. Likewise, if you’re facing a DUI, you want a DUI attorney, and so forth.
2. Attorney’s experience. As you’re putting your life into someone else’s hands, you probably don’t want to go with someone who just passed the bar exam a week ago; don’t be afraid to ask a potential criminal defense attorney what types of cases she’s handled, how long she’s been practicing, and even whether she’s ever served as a public defender. Former public defenders can often make great private criminal defense attorneys because of extensive experience in the courtroom.
3. Results of the attorney’s cases. Just because a criminal defense attorney has participated in many cases doesn’t mean he’s necessarily been clearing his clients of charges. Be sure to ask about the results of the cases the attorney has handled to get a feel for how often he wins and/or encourages plea bargaining.
4. Cost of attorney’s services. You don’t exactly want to be trying to save money on your criminal defense attorney as your freedom may be at stake, but try to get a good understanding of what the going rates are in your area before deciding on an attorney. You can do this by asking around and/or by getting free consultations with various attorneys and asking about rates and fees.
5. Attorney’s availability and professionalism. Ask how many cases the attorney currently has and what type of contact with her you can expect. Was your phone call to the office returned promptly? Did the office look orderly and under control? Does the attorney have associate attorneys or paralegals in the office? Overall, is this attorney going to have enough time and resources to handle your case effectively?
6. Attorney’s reputation. Look up all the information you can find on the attorney, including rankings on sites like Martindale-Hubbell; if you don’t know anyone who has used the attorney, ask for contact information of past or current clients. Also check whether the attorney belongs to any professional organizations or otherwise holds leadership positions in the community or other organizations.
7. Your gut. If you just don’t like the attorney for some reason, don’t hire him. You have to feel extremely comfortable with the person who will represent you, and if you’re not feeling that, move on.