Facing criminal charges is no small thing, and your choice of attorney can make all the difference in the world regarding the outcome of your case. This is not a decision to be made hastily. While cost will certainly be a factor, don’t let it be the primary one. You certainly have no shortage of lawyers at your disposal, so it is important you are ‘in the know’ about what to consider when making this crucial decision. Here are just a few important things to keep in mind.
This tip may seem kind of obvious, but many people don’t carefully consider the experience a lawyer has in criminal law overall. You will find plenty of lawyers who dabble in various practice areas, and for many issues, they can get the job done adequately. This is not the type of lawyer you want to use for a criminal charge. You want a lawyer who exclusively works in this field. Then you want to take that one further. You want a lawyer experienced with your type of crime. If you have been charged with a violent crime, you don’t want to choose a lawyer who primarily deals with drunk driving cases. You want to find a lawyer who handles violent crimes.
An appropriate lawyer should be able to talk to you in great length about the nature of the charges, possible outcomes and your rights at every stage of the proceedings. He should be able to confidently answer your questions.
Experience in the Jurisdiction Where You Were Charged
Many criminal cases end up being settled with a plea bargain with the district attorney’s office. This means it is good if the attorney has a good relationship with the attorney who will be prosecuting the case, and/ or has a good reputation. Look for lawyers who frequently appear in the jurisdiction where you have been charged. Because of this, you will want to focus on attorneys local to the area where you were charged if it is a distance from where you actually live.
Beware of Guarantees
While past experience with similar cases may give an attorney some idea of how your case may play out, there is no way to guarantee a specific outcome. Be wary of any lawyer who makes claims about getting you a specific result, particularly getting charges dismissed or avoiding jail time completely.
Considerations for Costs
Criminal defense lawyers typically work on a flat-fee or retainer, which is a set amount of money paid at the outset and used to work your case. This amount can vary greatly depending on the lawyer and the nature of the charges. You are probably looking at a cost of at least several thousand dollars. Some lawyers may require an additional retainer if the case ends up going to trial. Be careful here…there have been many a story of people pleading guilty simply because they could not afford to pay their lawyer the fees necessary to take the case to court. If a lawyer does operate in this way, make sure you have a full understanding of the fees, and whether it is something you can afford.