Things to Look For When You Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
Ever since human beings congregated together for mutual protection and benefit, there have been rules and laws governing them. Not coincidentally, since that dawn of civilization there have been those who run afoul of those laws. Whether looking for a sophist in ancient Greece, the juris consulti in the Roman Empire, or a defense attorney in the 21st century, someone charged with a criminal offense must actively search for a good criminal lawyer. The right choice can lead to exoneration and redemption; the wrong choice can lead to loss of money, liberty, or worse. Following a few tips in attorney selection can make all the difference.
Never bring a knife to a gun fight. These wise words have a wide and varied application to real life: always be prepared; never underestimate an opponent; always over-pack. In the context of hiring a criminal defense attorney, never bring your over-worked, newly-graduated, bankruptcy attorney to a criminal trial. In order to find an established criminal lawyer with experience as a defense attorney…
Always ask questions. It just so happens that lawyers are exceedingly good at asking and answering questions, so actively ask questions. What is your specialty? How long have you been practicing? What associations do you belong to? What is your case load? A criminal attorney specializing in assault will be of little help in an extortion case. A defense attorney who belongs to a Corporate Income Tax Association will have little input in a murder case. Any lawyer with 500 clients will have little time to provide their new client with individualized and excellent service.
You get what you pay for. Attorneys are compensated based on their experience and the difficulty of the case. There are no coupons, discounts, or do-it-yourself rates. However, Attorneys are also bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct, and must provide written contract agreements, cannot overcharge for their service, and cannot take contingent fees for criminal cases.
Research, research, research. When making any purchase, whether it be a new stereo, car, or (heaven forbid) a defense attorney, “know what you’re buying.” Each state has a Bar Association created as an administrative arm of that state’s court system and most counties have a Bar Association as well. Most Bar Associations provide detailed information on each of the attorneys working there; from specialties to insurance status.
Outline the event. The appropriate lawyer has been chosen, the fees agreed upon, now the client must meet with the defense attorney. This meeting is crucial in informing the attorney about the relevant facts of the case so that they can make decisions concerning strategy, pleadings, and discovery. Facts are often difficult to illicit from a client. A client will rarely, if ever, remember all the factual elements of an event from time A to time Z. Often, a random smell, conversation, or emotion can lead to a fact or memory that was previously forgotten. Start an outline of the event right away. As more memories come to the fore, add them to the outline. This ensures that all pertinent facts come to light.
Lawyers are unjustly mocked by society. They are categorized as anal-retentive, verbose, and ethically challenged. However, the mocking stops when someone is charged with a criminal offense. Then, the lawyer becomes attentive, eloquent, and dedicated to their client. Follow these simple steps and rest assured that your criminal defense attorney is the right choice.