Do you have need for a criminal defense attorney, but are unsure of how to go about finding the right lawyer for you? Take a deep breath. Clear your head. And then take this one step at a time.
Choosing the best lawyer for you is an important task that you should not take lightly. Time may be of the essence, but that does not mean you should hire the first person who answers the phone. Instead, get a few names from friends, colleagues, family, or even Google. Then:
- Ask questions: You have questions. You deserve answers. Pick up the phone and ask each lawyer a few questions. If you are unsure of what questions to ask, read below for some help getting the conversation started.
- Meet face to face: Your comfort level with your attorney is of prime importance. You must feel at ease so you can speak freely and work together to achieve the best possible outcome. Meeting face to face will help you get a better sense of who the attorney is than you would otherwise receive from a phone call.
- Review testimonials: If you have time, read testimonials from past clients. Check online reviews. Also, some lawyers may have a list of clients for you to call. If so, call them and ask them for a reference.
With this information in hand, you will be able to narrow the field and make your decision.
4 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your Criminal Defense Lawyer
- What experience do you have handling cases involving my specific charges? Experience matters in criminal defense cases; your freedom, rights and record are all on the line. You want to know that the defense lawyer you choose has the experience in matters just like yours.
- What other experience do you have that relates to my case? Perhaps you have found a lawyer you really like and trust, but that lawyer does not have direct experience with cases like yours. In that situation, ask about related experience, including trial experience, similar case work, etc.
- Do I get access to your direct phone line? This question goes directly to the heart of your relationship with your lawyer. Will you be able to access your criminal defense attorney when you need him or her? Will you be able to meet to discuss new developments and other items? Or will this lawyer hand your case directly over to a new associate, and the only time you will see or speak to this lawyer is in court?
- What costs are included in your legal fees? All criminal defense attorneys are not equal. This is especially true when it comes to attorney fees and legal costs. Ask how much the attorney will charge to represent you in your case. Then ask for a breakdown of those costs to determine what is included. For instance, does the quoted number include payment for private investigators? What about court filing fees? Having a clear picture of cost will help you in making your final decision. Remember this: you do pay for experience. So choosing the lowest bidder may not be in your best interests. The same is true for the highest bidder—do you really need to hire the most expensive attorney in town to get the results you desire?
When In Doubt, Go With Your Gut
If you find yourself facing a list of two or three potential attorneys for you who all share similar experiences and rates, your best bet is to go with your gut. Which one of those attorneys do you feel most comfortable with? Which one do you believe will work hardest for you and will keep your best interests in mind? You cannot go wrong if you go with the one you trust the most.