Three Things to Ask a Prospective Criminal Attorney
You’ve been arrested and are now facing serious felony criminal charges. You’ve never been in trouble (or maybe you have) and you don’t know what to do, but you know you hadn’t planned on being in jail this Christmas. You know you need an attorney, but you don’t have any friends or family that practice law and don’t know who to call. Regardless of who you end up hiring, there are several basic questions that need to be asked any attorney you interview to represent you.
1. Do you handle criminal law?
In days gone by, many attorneys were “general practice” attorneys who you could call if you were arrested, needed a divorce, wanted a Last Will and Testament, or were injured in a car wreck. As the law has evolved and become more complicated, it is now more common for attorneys and law firms to focus on one or two areas of law. Many attorneys don’t represent criminal defendants, or don’t handle criminal cases as a regular part of their practice. Therefore, before you make a final decision on an attorney you should probably ask them if they handle criminal cases as a significant portion of their law practice.
2. Do you handle the type of case that I’ve been charged with?
Even within criminal attorneys, there are attorneys that specialize in certain types of cases, and attorneys that refuse to handle cases involving certain crimes. For instance, some criminal attorneys only practice in State Court, while others also handle Federal Criminal cases. Federal law is fairly standardized nationally and can be drastically different than state criminal law practice. There are attorneys whose focus is on handling federal criminal cases across the country. Additionally, some attorneys refuse to handle various types of cases such as DUI, murder or child sex cases due to that attorneys own personal preferences or prejudices. So another question you should ask before deciding on which attorney to hire is whether they handle the type of case you are currently facing.
3. What kind of results have you obtained in cases similar to mine?
While you may have found an attorney that does handle criminal matters that are similar to your case, you want to make sure that they have handled such cases with good results for their clients. You may not want to hire an attorney that routinely pleads all of their clients guilty to lengthy prison sentences, as you may not be interested in pleading guilty. You should want to determine if they have ever tried a similar case to a jury, and what type of verdicts they have obtained. A determination of the results your prospective attorney has obtained in cases similar to yours will give you a good idea of that attorney’s knowledge and comfort level in handling cases such as yours.
It has been said that your decision who to hire to represent you in a criminal case is one of the most important decisions you may make in your life. Before making such a decision, you owe it to yourself to find the answers to these simple questions.