Whether you are facing a simple DUI or a hefty criminal penalty, you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney possible. Most people are under the impression that they can handle a minor criminal charge by themselves, but they can be wrong. In fact, no two criminal cases are the same. Only an expert criminal defense lawyer can pick up the special points in your case. He/she can also find points that can alleviate any potential crime.
However, finding a knowledgeable and experienced defense attorney is no cakewalk. Whether you are looking for a lawyer practicing criminal defense in Wappingers or in Chicago, you will have countless attorneys to choose from.
We have listed eights steps below to help you find the best defense attorney in your jurisdiction.
1. Start with Online Research and Initial Screening
You can start with searching for lawyers in your city on the Internet. The local bar office is also a good place to begin your search. Several websites offer an online database of lawyers where you can search for one based on your location. Look for useful information, including years of experience and other crucial details that you can find on a lawyer’s website. You may find a few articles, blog posts, and testimonials that may give you a level of comfort and confidence in their ability. Make sure to shortlist at least ten attorneys during the initial screening.
2. Hire an Attorney with Relevant Experience
Lawyers are becoming specialists, just like doctors. Most criminal defense attorneys practice only a particular area of criminal law. For example, a lawyer may specialize in handling only white collar crimes. Make sure to hire an attorney with relevant experience. Check out if he/she has handled cases similar to yours. There is no point in hiring a DUI lawyer if you are facing battery and assault charges.
3. Check the References and Testimonials
You should review the lawyer’s website to look for client testimonials and case results. You can also contact the attorney to get contact information of other clients. Most jurisdictions now allow lawyers to share the information of completed cases. You can also visit review sites to see what the ex-clients are saying about a lawyer.
4. Set Up a Free Consultation
Most defense lawyers offer free initial consultation over the phone or in person. Call each lawyer on your list to schedule a free consultation. Ask the lawyer about his/her experience of handling cases similar to yours. Describe your case in detail, and ask his/her opinion on it. If necessary, make a list of questions before going to the consultation. Your goal is to gain as much knowledge about the attorney’s professional approach toward the criminal law practice. You also need to check if you feel comfortable dealing with the lawyer. Make sure to hire a lawyer who can connect with you.
5. Choose an Attorney with Courtroom Experience in Your Jurisdiction
Different states have different criminal laws. Besides, not all attorneys are allowed to practice in every jurisdiction. Each court has unique procedures and staff, so it is important that your lawyer is familiar with the local court. For example, the local prosecutor may have a no-deal policy for a serious criminal offense. It is a major advantage to you if your defense attorney knows the local court procedures where your case is pending. Unless there are special circumstances, you will want to hire a lawyer with a local office.
6. How He/She Is Going to Charge You
If you are in serious trouble, you may not have the luxury to shop around for an affordable lawyer. An experienced lawyer is going to cost more than one freshly out of law school. Usually, a criminal defense attorney charges on an hourly basis, though a few lawyers may charge a flat fee. It is important to know that no defense attorney will work on contingency basis.
7. Look for an Attorney with Sound Resources
Criminal cases differ significantly from civil lawsuits. Fighting a criminal case requires spending more time and effort on research. A professional lawyer usually works with a team of private investigators who can investigate not just the alleged crime, but also the witnesses. These investigators may be able to find evidence that makes a testimony less reliable, turning the tide in your favor. Make sure to ask the lawyer if he/she can hire a team of investigators and expert witnesses to strengthen your case.
8. Trust Your Gut Feelings
Working with an attorney who puts you under pressure is going to be more difficult than working with an amicable lawyer. An overly aggressive lawyer may blow your defense out of proportion, tearing it into pieces. You should always hire a lawyer who understands you and makes you feel comfortable. Trust your gut feeling.
Criminal cases proceed a lot faster than civil ones. Fighting a serious felony charge isn’t the same as fighting a parking ticket. That’s why you need a qualified and professional legal representative. You may not have a lot of time to shop around for one. These eight tried-and-tested steps will help you find the best criminal defense lawyer in the shortest time possible.