The No B.S. Guide to Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
When accused of a crime time is of the essence. Often times individuals will turn to the internet to find a criminal defense attorney to help them with their case. Most are overwhelmed with the number of choices available. This guide was written to help the consumer make a logical and good choice.
What To Look For In Your AttorneyWhen searching for a criminal defense attorney, you'll want to not only read their marketing material but also meet them in person and see what their previous clients are saying about them. I highly encourage most individuals to consult with at least two to three attorneys and meet the ones they are interested in hiring in person.
Here is a list of eight things to consider when hiring a criminal defense attorney.
3. No over promising
4. Is he or she a good fit for YOU?
5. Customized Solution to YOUR case
6. Credibility and Reputation
7. Knowledge and Competence - Willingness to go to Trial
8. Do I understand what he or she is going to do for me?
Each of these is broken down further below.
ExperienceExperience is good, but it can be misleading. Time in practice does not necessarily equal relevant experience to providing you a solution to your particular problem.
Did the attorney you consulted with have "over 30 years of experience"? Experience in what? Family, immigration, personal injury, real estate, and criminal law? Be sure that the experience that the prospective attorney tells you about is actually experience that will help him or her effectively resolve your case for you with the best possible outcome.
The prospective attorney should also be familiar, and preferably on good terms, with the the individuals involved in your case - the Judge, the prosecutor, the police officers, etc.
Use your common sense when evaluating your prospective attorneys experience and how relevant it is to solving your particular problem.
AuthenticityAuthenticity really comes down to your prospective attorney's personality and how they present themselves which lends to 1. your comfort with he or she as your attorney and 2. it gives you insight into how they will handle themselves with other actors involved in your case (i.e. the prosecutor, the Judge, etc.).
This really comes down to this question: do you LIKE the prospective attorney's personality both for yourself and for how they will handle your case?
Having a pleasing personality in no way can be related to being a great lawyer, but it certainly helps if YOU like your attorney.
You'll only get good insight into your attorney's personality by speaking to them on the phone and meeting them in person. I highly encourage you to consult with attorneys if you are in need of one.
No Over-PromisingOver promising is great when selling a car or some other product, but when it comes to criminal law, no good criminal attorney will ever promise you a result. This is because he or she simply cannot do so. A seasoned criminal law attorney can probably foresee how the case will end with the information that they are given at the initial client consultation based on seeing and handling numerous cases with similar fact patterns, but there is no way to be certain. No good or ethical attorney will make you any promises. The Judge, the prosecutor, the police officiers, FDLE experts, lay witnesses, and defenses will come to light over time through the discovery process, so promising a result at the outset of a case is never feasible. Furthermore, the prosecutor will provide offers, and until an offer is provided, there is no sure resolution to a case. A jury could convict or adjudicate you at trial. The Judge could be lenient or a hammer. It all depends on a number of circumstances. A savvy criminal defense attorney will navigate, negotiate, and litigate your case to get you the best possible result, but can never promise you an outcome until one is truly in hand.
If any attorney promises you an outcome in exchange for you hiring them, run. If any attorney tells you, "it is most likely that you will get Pre trial diversion, but I cannot promise it," you've got someone who knows what they are talking about.
Is He or She a Good Fit for ME?Every individual has different needs. Every attorney offers different strengths. For example, if you are looking for an attorney who will communicate with you via email, telephone, text, or in person and provide you with maximum effort, skill, and tenacity, I'm your guy. If you are looking for the cheapest option for your case, I am not.
Each attorney has a different business model. Some attorney's do not wish to communicate with their clients directly unless an appointment is made with their staff so that they can focus on lawyering and adhere to a strict schedule for time management purposes. Other attorneys take on very selective cases. Still others have a "volume" business where they offer their services at bargain prices but handle a high number of case thereby making it difficult to focus their attention on each and every case to the fullest extent necessary.
None of these business models are per se good or bad, but make sure that you find the right fit for you and what really matters to you! Use your consultation along with previous client reviews to determine if the attorney you are speaking with will meet your particular needs. A good fit for both the attorney and the client is always an important thing.
Customized Solution to YOUR caseFind an attorney that will listen to you and your particular needs as opposed to give you a generic one-size fits all road map of your case. Each case is absolutely unique. The circumstances of your case, coupled with your particular goals and needs in life, will determine how your attorney will attack your case. Each individual's appetite for risk is different. Each individual has different concerns regarding the effect that their criminal case may have on their work and livelihood, their family, their citizenship status, their loved ones, and their overall life. Make sure you hire an attorney who understands both your unique needs and goals, and who discusses the unique aspects and facts of your case with you.
Credibility and ReputationRead up on the attorneys you are meeting with before you meet them. Look at their previous client reviews, their peer endorsements, and what people are saying about them. If the prospective attorneys you are meeting with have great reviews, read them and see what exactly they did to help their previous clients. If an attorney you are meeting with has some negative reviews, read them to see what exactly happened to make the previous client upset. Looking into the reputation of your prospective attorney will give you insight into their previous results (which should not be relied on to determine the results in your case, because all cases are different and past results do not always predicate future results in criminal law).
Knowledge and Competence - Willingness to go to TrialAlthough knowledge and competence seems fundamental, make sure your attorney understands your case and has handled your type of case before. You preferably want an attorney that has handled many, many other cases with similar charges, who was previously a prosecutor, or who has been practicing criminal law for a long time. (See Experience above).
You should hire an attorney that is not, in any way, opposed to taking your case to trial. All accused have a fundamental and Constitutional right to trial. Hire a lawyer that enjoys trying cases.
Tip: Ask your attorney how many cases they have tried, and how many they have tried within the last few years.
Do I understand what he or she is going to do for me?After your consultation with your prospective attorney, you should know exactly what they are going to do for you. They should provide you with an action plan or a road map of what they next step in their case plan is and what they will immediately do for you once retained. If it is unclear as to exactly what your attorney will do for you, ask. If they cannot explain it or you are unsatisfied, voice your concern or meet with another attorney.
Suggestion: Meet With At Least Three Attorneys In PersonThe rule of three. Meet with at least three attorneys in person before hiring one. If during your meeting with the first attorney you hit it off and love him or her, go ahead and retain them if you see fit. The rule of three does not mean you should pass up an opportunity to hire the right attorney for you on the spot, but it is a good rule. It allows you to see three different professionals in their element and to see how they respond to your questions and what advice they give you. Hiring a criminal defense attorney is a huge purchase of services for someone who is accused. It should be taken seriously and every person should want to higher the best quality attorney possible for their unique case. Keep in mind also that in the long run, an attorney whose price may be higher than the next may end up saving you money on fees, fines, classes, and community service hours down the road.
Consult with UsLadan Law focuses it's practice solely on criminal defense. It is comprised of former prosecutors with excellent trial experience who aggressively yet tactfully represent their clients for the best results possible. We view each case uniquely and formulate a plan of attack based on your particular situation and the unique facts of your case. Call us at 407-657-1555 for a free consultation and mention that you read this guide.