Whether you were charged with a misdemeanor or a major criminal offense, it’s a serious issue.
The person charged risks penalties and consequences that can follow them for years to come including jail time, a criminal record and the loss of certain job opportunities, among many others.
If you are facing criminal charges, it’s critical to seek out the advice and counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney to help guide you through your options.
What To Look For When Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer
Criminal defense attorneys handle a lot of different types of criminal cases. This can include felonies, misdemeanors, drug charges, and many other local, state or federal crimes.
When looking for a criminal defense attorney, you’ll want to consider the following:
- Find a criminal defense attorney who has experience with your type of case
- Find a local attorney who practices in the jurisdiction you are being charged in
- Make sure you have a personal fit with the attorney since they will be representing YOU in any negotiations, pretrial and trial proceedings
Why An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Matters
Take into consideration the type of case you have. You will want to find an attorney with extensive experience representing defendants charged with the same or very similar crimes.
There are many different types of criminal offenses that an attorney can specialize in: An attorney could have more experience in white collar crimes, such as fraud or they may focus solely on drug-related offenses.
In order to learn if your attorney is a best fit for your case, you should consider the following:
- Ask Questions During Your Consult: Ask if they have represented people who have had your same charges. Ask if they have experience in the court your case is assigned to.
- Past Experience: Ask where else they have worked. Many private lawyers have years of criminal law experience as either a prosecutor or a public defender. This would also give you good insights into the courts they are most familiar with, as well as the variety of cases they may have tried.
- Look Online: Research online reviews or news coverage of their past cases.
The Local Advantage
It’s important that any criminal defense attorney you choose to retain has experience trying cases in the courthouse where the case is assigned.
Having the “home-court advantage” can make a big difference. For example, knowing if the local prosecuting attorney is likely to strike a plea bargain with certain types of offenses can make the difference in what your attorney recommends.
A local attorney is also going to have experience working with local police, investigators and others who may be involved in your case.
Is It A Personal Fit?
The lawyer that you ultimately choose will be speaking on your behalf. No matter how highly recommended an attorney may be, it’s important that you feel personally comfortable with them representing you.
Your relationship with your attorney should be a partnership where you can trust each other in the difficult decision-making processes.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself after your first consultation with the attorney:
- Does the attorney explain things in a way that I can understand?
- Is the attorney someone I can trust and speak openly with?
- Does the lawyer show personal concern and a genuine desire to help?
- Does the lawyer appear to be a person who will be trusted by the prosecutors, judges, and, if necessary, jurors?