When you are dealing with a criminal charge finding a top class, reliable attorney is a huge priority. This isn’t the time to experiment or take chances, to have the best chance in court you need to make the right decision first time round. That’s why we have put together this useful guide to help. It runs through all the things you need to do, research and think about to find yourself that reliable criminal defense attorney you deserve.
Stage 1 – Finding a reliable criminal defense attorney
1, Look for someone with direct and local experience
You need an experienced attorney who also specializes in criminal law. Sure there are some great lawyers out there who cover several areas of the law, but for serious issues like criminal defense you need someone with the knowledge and ability which only experience can bring. A specialist will be up to date with the law too, as things can change over time.
Local experience is always a huge advantage for a criminal defense lawyer as they know how things work, and are aware of the judges and how they operate.
- Look for someone who is responsive
Of course, lawyers are busy people, and that’s a positive sign, but a good lawyer will make sure every client (or potential client) feels like they are the only person on their caseload. Make a note of how and when you first contact a lawyer, if their response is slow and slack then how much confidence could you have in them being interested in fighting your case? (Check their website before contacting so you are aware of response times. For example, it may state that web form enquiries or emails will be answered with xx number of hours or days.)
If you call with a query and are promised a callback does that happen within the time scale indicated? Always keep in mind the fact that they are not going to suddenly become better at communicating if you signed up with that company, so if you have any doubts at all simply walk away.
- Check out a potential defense attorney
For your own peace of mind it’s worth checking the background, experience and qualifications of any potential candidate for your shortlist. Every state keeps a list of all lawyers licensed to practice there, and this holds any record of disciplinary procedures they have been through.
Some websites like Google+ and Facebook don’t let attorneys remove bad reviews, so these websites can be a good place to look at what other clients have to say. Other sites help attorneys paint a rosy picture. While you don’t want to count an attorney out because of one bad review, reading reviews can give you a general idea of what other clients have to say about them and their services.
Review sites and social media site ratings can be useful too, although some may not be entirely accurate. Don’t let the odd negative review put you off, some people will always complain regardless, and be wary of too many generic reviews where results are all positive. Look for patterns of complaints or particular issues instead as these are more likely to be close to the truth.
Stage 2 – Working on the shortlist
By now you should have a list of anywhere from 5-10 possible lawyers who have passed all tests in stage 1 to make it to your shortlist. This is the point where you can do some more digging to find out if it is worth making an appointment to discuss your case.
This involves making a call to check out a few things. If you can, try to speak to a potential attorney directly, but is that isn’t possible you should still be able to get some information from their assistants.
- Ask about fees
Their answer on this topic should be clear, straightforward and generally easy to understand. A reliable lawyer doesn’t want a client to spend more than they can for to, or to bankrupt anyone! The fee structure should be clear and easy to work out, with no hidden extras which you end up having to pay for.
- Are they knowledgeable and confident?
Unless your case involves something extremely unusual a decent criminal defense lawyer, such as Anaya-McKedy, P.C. should be able to comment on the situation with logical clarity and an insightful mind. They should ask useful questions and generally display their knowledge of the justice system.
Stage 3 – Meeting the lawyer
It’s not worth making a face to face appointment to check out a criminal defense lawyer until you are sure they are a good prospect, but once you have an appointment here are some things to look out for to help you make a final decision.
A decent lawyer is passionate about what they do. They want the best possible outcome for every case they take on, not just to go through the motions with no real care for the outcome.
This applies especially to court. If they are not comfortable talking about previous court experiences this could be a sign they will err on the side of plea bargaining rather than fight for you all the way through the system. Think of yourself on a jury – would this lawyer make you believe in them and what they are saying?
- Open to real communication
Of course, they are the legal experts, and they know more about the law than you do, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get a say. A reliable and worthwhile criminal defense lawyer will always be willing to listen to what you are asking or saying and work with you on it.
- Okay with taking direction
Just as you trust in your attorney to make the right legal moves, so must they trust in you to make any decisions which come up, such as whether or not to push for a trial rather than plead guilty.