When should I speak to a lawyer?
As soon as you have been arrested you should consult with an attorney. Nothing can replace the advice and counsel of an attorney who practices law in your city. That attorney is going to know the judges on the bench and the prosecutors who will be handling your case. In some cases if you believe you are going to be arrested it is imperative to speak with a lawyer before you turn yourself in or speak to law enforcement. The most important thing you can do when facing a criminal charge is consult with a lawyer. Choose a lawyer who is experienced in the type of case you are facing and also someone who is availble to speak with you right away. The sooner you act in some cases the better the result could be in your case.
How do I choose a lawyer?
Once you have met with a few lawyers and decided you need an attorney how do you choose the one that will represent you? Normally, if you feel a connection with the lawyer; s/he has answered all your questions, they are genuinely interested in your case, and you feel like they know what they are talking about that lawyer is the one for you. Don't go with someone who's telling you everything you want to hear or scaring you into hiring them. Hire the attorney that seems like s/he is trying to help you make the right decision. It is also important to hire an attorney that has experience in the specific type of case you are charged with. Don't hire a DUI lawyer to handle your murder case, and vice versa.
How much should I pay for a lawyer?
You get what you pay for is usually correct when looking to hire an attorney. However, reputation and referrals are also important when considering what a proper retainer is for a certain case. There is no absolute price setting in legal retainers. However, some tips in this area: if it's too good to be true it probably is. If a lawyer has quoted you $2,000 for a complex drug trafficking case they probably have no idea the complexity of the case and the associated minimum mandatory prison sentences. Obviously, it goes the other way as well, if the lawyer is quoting you $5,000 for a simple petit theft; odds are you are getting gouged. Just like any other type of service be careful with the prices and make sure you have shopped around for a lawyer before deciding on one. Your freinds and family will probably know of a few. In criminal cases if you cannot afford a private lawyer one would be appointed to you ususally called a public defender.